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When I learned that, under a resolution adopted Ity the 
Bench and Bar of the Supreme Court, I had heen appointed 
"to deliver an "Address on the Life and Character of the 
Hon. William A. Graham," I stayed not to question mj- own 
sufficienc}^ for the duty to which you assigned me. Coming 
from such a source, the appointment had to me somewhat 
the force of a command. No command, however, could 
have been more grateful, since it had for its object to do 
honor to one for whom I have ever cherished a veneration 
-and affection which hardly knew^ a limit. 

One w^ord will be permitted me as to the manner in which 
this duty has been performed. It will be seen that my sole 
■object has been to present a faithful sketch of the life of this 
illustrious man, together with such reflections as naturall}^ 
-■arose out of a study of his career — such as were suggested 
■by a consideration of his labors, his motives and his aims. 

I have adopted this course from a profound conviction that 
the truest narrative of his life would be his best monument ; 
"that the highest eulogy that could be pronounced u})on him 
w^ould be to present him just as he was. 

In the execution of this design I have been led to touch, 
at one point, u}>on that period of our own history when the 
•existing political parties of the day had their origin, and when, 
political feeling was very much embittered ; at another, to a 
•somewhat extended examination of a statement contained in 
a recent address published in Our Living and Our DcaJ. 


III tlic former will be seen, I trust, no trace of partisan: 
feeling; in the latter no purpose otlier than to elucidate the- 
truth of history. 

^Yiliiam Alexander Graham was born on the 5th day of 
September, 18(J4, in the county of Lincoln. He was for- 
tunate alike in the race from which he sprang and in his own 
ancestry. The race was that which, by a change of residence 
from Scotland to Ireland, anterior to its immigration to this 
country, acquired, as it were, a double nationality and name,. 
to-wit: Scotch-Irish. It was a people of marked character- 
istics. B}^ their residence among the Irish they seemed to 
haA'e added somewhat of the fervor of mind and feeling 
which distinguishes that race, to the clear intelligence, strong 
will and shrewd sagacity of their mother country. They 
were noted for their unconquerable attachment to the great 
principles of liberty. The}' speculated with the coolness- 
and sagacity of the Scotchman upon the functions and limit- 
ations of government, and, like the Irishman, they kindled 
into Hame upon any invasion of their rights. They were- 
rresb3''terian in their tenets, and devoted to that form of" 
worship. Wherever they went the minister went witk 
them; amid all the chances and changes of life he was there- 
to instruct, to encourage and console. The polity of that 
church demanded a learned ministry, and the minister was. 
almost always a secular as well as sacred teacher ; hence,, 
wherever they established themselves, liberal education was; 
fostered and classical learning taught. In Mecklenburg and 
the neighboring counties they earnestly sought, while JS^'orthi 
Carolina was yet a colony, to found a college. Twice was a 
charter granted by the Legislature, and twice disallowed b}" 
the King. Charters were granted to iiostitutions, the instruc- 
tors of which were members of the Church of England ; they 
were denied where the instructors were of the I'resbyterianj 
faith. " The faith of Calvin," says Bancroft, " has ever beenj 
feared as the creed of Republicanism."' 


Early in our colonial history they signalized their zeal for 
•civil and political liberty. The political disturbances an- 
terior to the Revolution, which issued in the Mecklenburg 
Declaration of Independence, were the outgroAvth of this 
spirit. This spirit was not the offspring of a vague enthii- 
siasrn. Ko people ever had clearer conceptions of the objects 
they sought to compass. " The genuine sense of America at 
that moment," said the elder Adams, speaking of the Meck- 
lenburg Declaration, " was never so well expressed before 
nor since." 

The ancestry of Mr. Graham were deeply imbued with the 
spirit of this people. His maternal grandfather, j\Iajor John 
Davidson, was one of the signers of the Mecklenburg 
Declaration, and acted a conspicuous })art in the Revolution. 
Tlie name of his father, General Joseph Graham, is one of 
the best known in our Revolutionary annals. The bio- 
graphical sketch incorporated into "Wheeler's History is a 
brief but noble record. He entered the army at nineteen 
years of age. At the end of two 3'ears of arduous and respon- 
sible service he was stricken do\A'n by a severe and lingering 
illness, but returning liealth found him again in the field. 
When the war invaded his own section, and the army under 
General Greene withdrew towards Virginia, to him was 
assigned the command of those troops which sustained the 
rear-guard under General Davie. For many miles he was 
confronted with the troops of Tarleton, the best body of 
cavalry in the British service. The .obstinate resistance 
■\Ahich he opposed to their intrepid advance had nearly closed 
his career. After many gallant but ineifectual attempts to 
•drive back the enemy, he at length fell, literally covered 
with wounds When his wounds were healed he again took 
the field. The service which now fell to his lot was one of 
peculiar privation, sufix'ring and sacrifice : commissary stores, 
diis command often had none ; nay, were sometimes under 
the necessity of supplying their own horses and pui'chasing 
their own equij^ments. But his patriotism was entire and 


nncalculatiug ; he rocked not of means, health or life itself in.- 
the cansc to which he had devoted himself. Suffice it thalr 
he continued in the field as long as there was in the country 
an enemy under arms ; and though he had, when peace was- 
declared, but entered on the threshold of manhood, he had 
commanded in fifteen different engagements. 

In civil life he was scarcely less distinguished ; the many 
important positions filled by him afibrd the liighest testi- 
mony to his capacity and character. It. is to be regretted 
that we have no extended biography of one who so well 
illustrated the character of the soldier and the citizen. 

Ilis mother was distinguished for her personal beauty — 
distinguished as well for her sense, piety and many amiable 
virtues. But death deprived him of her fostering care 
before he had attained his fourth 3'ear, and he was then eon- 
signed to the care of an elder sister. The tender aftection 
and respect with which he always referred to this sister,, 
attests how fully she discharged a mother's duty. 

lie received the rudiments of his education in the com- 
mon schools of the country. He commenced his classical 
education in the Academy at Statesville, then under the care- 
of the Rev. Dr. ^luchat, a scholar of good repute. Mr. Gra- 
ham verified the apparent paradox of Wordsworth, 

" The child is father of the man." 

lie was noted, from his earliest years, for his industry, hi&- 
thirst for knowledge and his aptitude to learn. One who 
knew him well* testifies that from his childhood he was no- 
less remarkable for his high sense of truth and honor thatk 
for his exemption from the levities and vices common to^ 
youth. At this Academy he applied himself to his studies=- 
with the most exemplary diligence. A classmate f at that 
time says of him, "he was the only boy I ever knew who 

Itev R. H. Morrison, t Judge Brevard. 


would spend his Saturdays in reviewing the studies of tlie 

An incident wliieli occurred about this time aftbrds a 
striking proof of liis early force of character. Gen. Grahaui 
was a pioneer in a branch of industry, yet but little devel- 
oped in tliis State — the manufacture of iron. Upon his 
removal to Lincoln he established a furnace and forge, which, 
at the time now spoken of, had become quite extensive.. 
From some cause the works were left without a superinten- 
dent. The General installed his son William, though then 
but a boy, and wholly without experience, at the head of 
the establishment; and the energy and judgment with 
which he conducted it, obtained his father's entire approval. 

He was next sent to the Academy at Hillsboro. This in- 
stitution, subsequently under Mr. Bingham, acquired a re- 
nown in the South and Southwest, not inferior to the re- 
nown of Rugby, in England, under Dr. Arnold. It was 
then under the direction of Mr. Rodgers. He had been edu- 
cated for tlie Catholic Priesthood, and for accurate scholar- 
ship and capacity as a teacher, had few superiors. Here Mr. 
Graham was prepared for College. 

From this Academy he went to the University of the 
State, where he was matriculated in the summer of 1820. 
His course throuo-hout his colleo:e life was admirable in ev- 
ery way. He appreciated the scheme of study there estab- 
lished, not only as the best discipline of the intellect, but as 
the best foundation for knowledge in its widest sense. He 
mastered his lessons so perfectly, that each lesson became a 
permanent addition to his stock of knowledge. The pro- 
fessors rarely failed to testify by a smile, or some other to- 
ken, their approval of his proficiency. On one occasion, a 
professor,:}: who has achieved a world-wide reputation in the 
field of science, remarked to one of his classmatesS that his 

■Professor Olmstead ; jiJohn W. Norwood, Epq. 


lecture on Chemistry came back as perfectly from Mr. Gra- 
ham as he had uttered it on the previous day. 

Some thirty years after, the same professor in a letter to 
Mr. Graham, (then Secretary of the Navy,) uses this lan- 
guage : " It has often been a source of pleasing reflection to 
me, that I was permitted to bear some part in fitting you, in 
early life, for that elevated post of honor and usefulness to 
which Providence has conducted you." 

His high sense of duty was manifested in his conscientious 
-deportment under the peculiar form of government to which 
he was then subject. His observance of every law and 
usage of the College was punctilious ; while, to the faculty, 
he was ever scrupulously and conspicuously respectful. 

His extraordinary proficiency was purchased by no labo- 
rious drudgery. The secret of it was to be found in the pre- 
cept which he acted upon, through life : " Whatsoever thy 
hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. '"' His powers of 
concentration were great, his perceptions quick, his memory 
powerful, prompt and assiduously improved. By the joint 
force of such faculties, he could accomplish much in little 
time. Hence, notwithstanding his exemplary attention to 
his College studies, he devoted much time to general read- 
ing. It was at this time, no doubt, that he laid up much of 
that large and varied stock of information upon which he 
•drew at pleasure, in after life. 

Intent upon availing himself to the full, of every advant- 
age aftbrded him, he applied himself assiduously to the du- 
ties of the Literary Society of which he Avas a member. He 
participated regularly in the debates and other exercises of 
that body. For all such he prepared himself with care ; and 
it is asserted by the same authority,]] to which I have al- 
ready referred — a most competent judge — that his composi- 
tions were of such excellence that, in a literary point of 

|;Mr. KoriVf.oil. 


view, they would have challenged comparison with an^'thing 
done by him in afterlife. 

His eno-ao-ins: manners broucrht him into yjleasant relations 
with all his fellow students. He lived with them upon terms 
of the frankest and most familiar intercourse. In their 
most athletic sports he never participated, hut he was a 
pleased spectator, and evinced by his manner a hearty sym- 
pathy with their enjoyments. His favorite exercise was 
walkino;, and those who knew him well will recollect that 
this continued to be his fiivorite recreation while health was 
spared him. With his friends and chosen companions he 
was cordial and easy, and always the life of the circle when 
met together. 

The class of which he was a mcmlier was graduated in 
1824. It was the largest up to that time ; and, for capacity 
and proficiency, esteemed the best. It was declared by 
Professors Olmstead and Mitchell, that Yale might well have 
been proud of such a class. It embraced many who aftcr- 
Avard won high distinction in political and professional life. 
One, who divided the highest honors of the class with Mr. 
Graham, attained the highest judicial station in the State — 
a seat upon the Supreme Court bench. f 

]^o one could have availed himself to a greater extent 
than Mr. Graham did, of the opportunities presented in his 
collegiate career " Ilis college life, in all its duties and ob- 
ligations," says the gentleman before quoted, f " was an 
epitome of his career upon the stage of the world." He 
adds that on the- day when he received his diploma, he could, 
with his usual habits of study, have filled any chair v\'ith 
honor to himself and acceptance to his class. Such is the 
emphatic testimony of one who himself graduated with high 
distinction in the same class. ]Might we not subjoin, build- 
ing upon the above remark, that his career in after life was, 

* Hon. M. E. M:iiily. t Mr. Nurwood. 


in great part, the logical result of the discipline and train- 
ing to Avhicli he submitted himself, so conscientiously, in his 
college life ? 

After graduation he made an excursion to some of the 
Western States, which occupied a few months. While at 
Lexington, he heard Mr. Crittenden address the jury in a 
great slander or libel case. Of all intellectual display's there 
are none so dazzling as those of the great orator or advocate ; 
there are none the trium[)lis of which are so palpable and 
so intoxicating ; none so calculated to excite the enthusiasm 
of a young and ingenuous mind. The speech, which was 
worthy of the great advocate's fame, made a profound im- 
pression upon Air. Grranam. It may have had some influence 
in determining his choice of a profession, or in fixing it, if 
already made. We shall see in the sequel that to the youth 
who, unknown to him, listened with such admiration to his 
speech that day, Mr. Crittenden many years after appealed 
for the use of his name, and the weight of his influence, at a 
crisis of great peril to their common country. From this 
tour he returned in 1824, and entered u}>on the study of the 
law in the oilice of Judge Rutfin. 

The o})inion of Judge Rutfin, as to the course proper to be 
pursued with a student of the law, was somewhat peculiar. 
He held that he should have little assistance beyond that of 
having his course of study prescribed. He must, as it were, 
scale the height alone — by his own strength and courage ; 
availing himself of a guide only at points otherwise inacces- 
sible. His brother, the Hon. James Graham, in a letter 
written at this period, made mention of this opinion, and 
urged him to adopt the expedient resorted to b}' himself: 
" When he would not examine me, I took," said he, " the 
liberty >of questioning him very frequently, and by di awing 
him into conversation on legal subjects, my own ideas were 
rendered more clear, correct and lasting." It is not likely 
that counsel so judicious, and from such a source, was neg- 


lie obtained his County Court licenso in the summer of 
1S26. At August term of the Court he appeared at the 
Orange Bar. The rule then required, between the admission 
to practice in the County Court and the admission to prac- 
tice in the Superior Court a novitiate of one year. This- 
period he spent in ITillsboro, that he might continue ta> 
profit by the instruction of his learned preceptor. At the- 
end of the year he received his Superior Court license. It 
was now. a question where he should establish himself for the- 
practice of his profession. The counties of Mecklenburg,. 
Cabarrus and Lincoln were filled with his blood relations, 
connections and friends. They were among the most distin- 
guished for their wealth, intelligence and Revolutionary 
fame. Their combined influence would give him command 
of all the important business of those counties, and place hiiii. 
at the outset in the position of a leader of the Bar. The 
prospect in Orange and the adjoining counties w^as widely 
different. In these latter counties he would have no adven- 
titious advantages. The business of these counties, more- 
over, was engrossed by an able and a numerous Bar. At 
the -first court which he attended after he obtained his Su- 
perior Court license they mustered to the number of twenty- 
six, A large proportion of these were young man recently ad- 
mitted to practice ; but after deducting these, and many 
more of longer standing and respectable position, there still 
remained a Bar which for learning, abilities and eloquence 
was never surpassed in this State. Of resident lawyers there- 
were Thomas Ruffin, Archibald D. Murphy, Willie P. Man- 
gum, Francis L. Hawkes and Frederick Xash ; of lawyers- 
attending the court, from other counties, there wore George 
E. Badger, William 11. Haywood and Bartlett Yancey. 
"What recollections of renow^i connected with the forum, the- 
Senate and the church flood the mind as we recall these- 
names ! Fain would I pause to contemplate the career of 
these illustrious men, by wdiich the character of North Caro- 
lina was so much elevated in the consideration of the world,. 


.imd so much of honor brouo-ht to the State. But other sub- 
jects press upon me — subjects of more immediate interest. 

ITot withstanding this formidable competition — a compe- 
tition which might well dismay one at the outset of profes- 
sional life — Mr. Graham resolved to fix his resi-dence at Ilills- 
boro. Two reasons were assigned by him for this conclu- 
sion : first, an unwillingness to relinquish the foot-hold he 
had gained in the county courts of Orange, Granville and 
Guilford ; second, a reluctance to sever the associations 
formed with his professional brethren at those courts. An- 
other reason, quite as potent, probably, was a well-grounded 
confidence in his own abilities, and in his knowledge of his 
i:)rofession. Against such men he entered the lists, and 
-against such he had to contend ; not indeed all at the same 
time, but all within a period of two years. It may be men- 
tioned as an instance of the vicissitudes of human life, that 
iive years from the August of that jear — 1827 — not one of 
those illustrious men remained at that Bar. 

His first case of importance in the Superior Court was one 
which, from peculiar causes, excited great local interest. It 
involved an intricate question of title to land. On the day 
•of trial, the court room was crowded and the Bar fully 
occupied by lawj'ers — many of them men of the highest pro- 
rfessional eminence. When he came to address the jury, he 
spoke with modesty, but with ease and self-possession. His 
j)reparation of the case had been thorough, and the argu- 
ment M'hich he delivered is described as admirable, both as 
to matter and manner. When he closed, the Hon. William 
H, Haywood, who had then risen to a high position at the 
Bar, turned to a distinguished gentleman, still living, of the 
-same profession, and inquired who had prepared the argu- 
ment which Mr. Graham had so handsomely delivered. The 
answer Vv^as, "It is all his own;" to which Mr. Haywood 
replied with the observation, " William Gaston could have 
odone it no better." 

Mr. Graham knew none of that weary probation v\'hicli 


has been the lot of so many able men. His argument in the* 
case just mentioned at once gave him a position of promi- 
nence. It was not long before ho attained a place in the- 
front rank of his profession. Here, with the large stores of" 
professional knowledge which he had laid up, it was easy to 
sustain himself. His high mental qualifications, his habits- 
of study, his perseverance, his unalterable taith in his cause,^ 
brought to him a constantlj' increasing business, and a con- 
stantly widening reputation. He was early, for so young a 
man, retained in the most important causes in the courts in 
which he practiced, and his associate counsel geneially gave- 
him the leading position in the trial. 

For forty years and more he maintained his higli pre- 
eminence in his profession. His name appears in the Reports., 
in nearly all the appeals from his own circuit, and in many 
of the important cases from the other circuits of the State. 
It would be impossible, in the compass of this Address, to- 
present Duy view, however brief, of the nature and variety 
of the causes in which he was employed. They will be 
found to embrace nearly every principle kuowu to the com- 
mon law and to equity jurisprudence, applicable under our 
system of government and to our changed condition of 
society. To his clear, penetrating, masculine intellect, both 
systems Avere alike adapted ; but the system of Equity 
seemed to me, to offer to him the most congenial field.. 
Thoroughly versed in the learning of this branch of juris- 
prudence, his fine, natural sense of right had led him to tlie- 
studyof the best ethical writers. He had thus rendered still 
more subtle his native perception of those more recondite- 
principles of justice which it is the object of that science to- 
administer. And though the system of equity has for a 
long time been little less circumscribed by known rules and 
precedents than the system of law, yet his mind found a 
grateful occujiation in tracing those rules and precedents 
back to the great principles from which they were deduced,, 
and vindicating their authority upon the ground of reason.. 


Xot, however, in courts of Equity did he establisli his 
:great rc})Utiitiou in his profession. The fame acquired in 
this Ijranch of practice is limited ahiiost entirely to the 
Eencli and Bar. It admits of none of those intellectual dis- 
plays for which the trial by jury is so well adapted. It is 
to the Law side of the court that we repair, if we 
would see him in that sphere, in which, professionally, he 
"was best known, and where his most signal triumphs were 
won. But of his distinguishing characteristics as a lawyer, 
I propose, hereafter, to speak. 

In 1833 he was elected a member of the General Assem- 
bly from the town of Ilillsboro. His first appearance on the 
floor has an interest from the relations subsequently existing 
between him and the distinguished man to whom the mo- 
tion submitted by him had reference. He rose to move the 
sending of a message to the t^enate to proceed to the election 
of a Giovernor of the State, and to ])ut in nomination Gov. 
Swain. A day or two after, he had tlie satisfaction of re- 
porting that that gentleman — who was ever afterward united 
to him in the closest bonds of friendshi] — had received a 
majority of votes, and of being named as first on the com- 
mittee to inform him of his election. He took, from the be- 
ginning, an active part in the business of the House relating 
to Banks, Lav\' Amendments and Education. A few days 
after the session commenced, lie was appointed chairman of 
a special committee, and submitted an adverse report upon 
the petition of certain citizens of France, praying that they 
might hold and transfer real estate. Xear the end of the 
session he was the chairman of another special commit- 
tee, to which was referred a question then much discussed. 
The question was, whether a person holding an office of 
profit or trust under the State government could, durino'his 
term, hold a like office under the government of the United 
States. The question arose under the Constitution of 177(), 
and is of no practical value now. But it was a question of in- 
terest at the time, and i)ossesses an interest for us, as the 


first woi'k of any kind clone b\' Mr. Grabani which hji.sconie 
down to us. He disposed of the question in a report clear 
and well reasoned, and marked with great precision of lan- 

lie was a member from the same town in 1834, during 
Avhich session he appears to have discharged the duties of 
the chairman of the committee of which he was a member, 
the Committee on the Jiuliciarj'. 

I record an incident which attests the high consideration 
which he had already acquired in the country, and the im- 
]»ortance attached to his o])inion. Judge Gaston had been 
elected in Ibo.'j to a seat on the Supreme Court Bench by a 
majority of two-thirds of the General Assembly. He had 
l)een brought up in the Roman Catholic faith — the faith of 
his fathers — the faith in which he died. The thirty-second 
section of the old constitution declared incapable of holding- 
office all those who "deny the truth of the Protestant relig- 
ion." Some dissatisfaction had been expressed at his accep- 
ting a judicial office under a constitution containing this 
clause, which in the opinion of some, excluded him. For 
some time he did not deem it necessary to advert to the 
mattei'. In 1834 — ^Xov. 12 — he addressed a letter to Mr. 
Graham, enclosing a written paper, in wdiich he stated suc- 
cinctly, but with great clearness and irresistible force, the 
reasoning by which his acceptance had been determined. In 
the conclusion of his letter he referred it to ^Mr. Graham's 
judgment, to determine what degree of publicity should be 
given to the pajier. Whether it was ever published we do 
not know ; but wdien we consider Judge Gaston's high sta- 
tion and great name in the country, and that the purity of 
that name was in a measure at stake, the incident must be 
regarded as a singular tribute to the character wdiich Mr. 
Graham had thus early established. It is well known how 
Judge Gaston availed himself of his place in the convention 
of 1835 to set forth to the world the reasons by wdiich his 
decision had been influenced — reasons so cogent and conclu- 


give as to satisfy every mind. It is known, too, that the ob- 
ject of the great speech delivered by him then — an object 
happily accomplished — was to bring about such a modilica- 
tion of the obnoxious clause as to deprive it of all sectarian 

Mr. Graham ^va3 again a member from Hillsboro in the 
year 1835. In the organization of the committees the post 
of Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary v.^as^ assign- 
ed to him, and the journals bear testimony to the diligence 
with which its duties were discharged. It was through him, 
in his capacity of chairman, that the various reports of the 
commissioners to revise the Statute Laws of the State — the 
Revised Code being then in progress — were submitted to 
the House. 

From the abilities displayed and the high position Ireld l)y 
him in tlie Legislature, we should naturally expect to find 
him in the Constitutional Convention of 1835. It been 
well said that the county of Orange has been to Nortli Caro- 
lina, what Virginia has been to the Union, the mother of 
statesmen f On this occasion, by one of those caprices 
which sometimes sei.^e upon communities as well as individ- 
uals, the noble old county seemed to care little for her an- 
cient renown. There seems to have been no action by the 
county to secure delegates worthy of her former reputation. 
We learn from the remarks of one of the delegates;}; in the 
Convention, that there were ten candidates in the field, and 
that the successful candidates were returned b}' so small a 
vote as to call forth a taunt from a member of the Conven- 
tion. In such a contest Mr. Graham had no desire to enter 
the field ; indeed, whenever he ofiered himself for the suf- 
frages of his countrymen, it was as the chosen champion of 
the principles of a great party. 

He again represented the county of Orange in the Legis- 
latures of 1838 and 1840, in both of which he was elected 

fMaj. Oales' sketch of Gov. CTi-aham, iii "lUustraled Age." jDr. Smith, "De- 
bates," p. 307. 


speaker. This witlidrev hlni Iroiu the arena otMelnite, and 
we loam little more of him from the journals of those ses- 
:aions than the uniform punctuality and universal acceptabili- 
ty with which he discharged the duties of that high trust. 

We take leave for the present of Mr. (Jiaham"s legislative 
career. His talents were soon to l>e exerted on national sub- 
^^cts, and on a grander stage. It needs but a cursor}' glance 
over the journals during the time he Mas a member to ob- 
•sevve the extent of his labors. The bills introduced, and the 
reports submitted by him embrace every great interest of 
the State. They embrace the subjects of banks, linance, ed- 
ucation, internal improvement, and measures relating to 
fimendraent and repeal of statutes. Here wid be seen the 
■causes of his pre-eminence among the statesmen of North 
Cai'olina. That pre-eminence was the fruit of a careful 
.study of the State in all her resources and in all her irder- 

A revolution in the politics of the State brought about a 
vacancy, in 1840, in the representation from Xorth Carolina 
in the Senate of the United States. Mr. Strange, under in- 
structions, had resigned his seat ; the term of the other Sen- 
ator was near its end. There were thus two terms to be till- 
ed bv the Legislature of 1841. Mr. Mangum Avas elected 
for the full term, Mv. Graham for the unexpired term. This 
■election was considered l)y Mr. Graham as the most emiihat- 
ic testimonial of the confidence and favor of the State -which 
lie received during his life. Mr. ^langum and he were resi- 
•dents of the same county, and of the njany able men who 
imight justly advance claims to the other seat ]\Ir. Graham 
was the youngest. an election under such circum- 
■stances constituted a tribute of peculiar signiticance and 

He was among the yoimgest members of the Senate when 
lie took his seat : but he soon commanded the esteem and 
respect of the entire body. That, it has been truly said, was 
j)re-eminently tlie age of great men in American parliamen- 


tary liistorv, nnd of such he was regarded as the worthy 
compeer. "lie never rose to speak," says a distinguished 
gentleman,* who was himself a member of Congress at that 
time, -'that he did not receive the most respectful attention.. 
When the Senate went into Committee of the Whole he was 
usually called upon to preside. Reports from him as chair- 
man of a committee almost invariably secured the favorable 
consideration of the Senate." From the same authority wc 
learn that the relations existing between him and Mr. Clay. 
were of the most kindlj^ and intimate character, and that 
Mr. Clay "regarded him as a most superior man, socially and. 

The period during which jMr. Graham was in the Senate 
was one of the most stormy in our political annals. The 
Whig party had just achieved a great victory, and Harrison 
and Tyler had been elected by an immeu..e majority. That 
party reckcmed confidently, that it would now be able to carry- 
out those great principles of government, for which it had 
so long contended, and which had been so signally ap])roved 
in the recent election. In the midst of these ]iatriotic anti- 
cipatioils, General Harrison died, and ivlr. Tyler succeeded, 
to the Presidential chair. Mr. Tyler had adopted the })lat- 
form of the Whig party, and in his address, upon assuming; 
the duties of his high office, he did not intimate the least 
change of policy from that which his predecessor had an- 
nounced in his inaugural. He liad, moreover, retained the* 
same constitutional advisers. The statesmen of the Whig- 
party now set to work to redeem the pledges which had* 
been made to the country. A great financial measure was. 
passed ; this was vetoed by the President. A second meas- 
ure of the same kind, framed in conformity to the views in-- 
dicated in his veto message, was passed, which was vetoed iiia 
like manner. Atarifi'bill was passed, but this shared the^ 
same fate. Eftbrts were made to pass these bills over the-. 

Hon. Kenneth Kayncr. 


President's veto, but in every instance tlie veto was sustained 
by the opposite party. The result of these repeated disap- 
pointments, that all ljoi»e of united and efficient action 
in carrying out the great [Manciples of tlie Whig party was 
finally abaudoned. 

The administration of Mi'. Van Buren had largely exceeded 
the revenues, l^rovision for tliis deficiency had to be made 
by the inconiing adminisi ration. To meet an emergency so 
pressing, a bill was introduced, known as the " Loan J>ill.'' 
It was strongly op})Osed, among others, by Mv. Callioun, in a 
speech of characteristic force and compass. So far as the 
Whigs were concerned it was an ni»[ieal by tlie administra- 
tion for aid, to a party which it had betrayed. Mr. (irahaiii 
only recollected tliat the good of the cotmtry was involved, 
and gave it his support. "I will not," said he, " sti„p the 
action of the government l»y denying it the means of going 
on, no matter who may be in power." Tlie speech v.lilch he 
delivered on this bill was eminently able and statesmanlike. 
He demonstrated tlie necessity of the ineasure ; lie traced 
out the cause of the deficienc}', and pointed out the remedy. 
The subject has little interest to the general reader at this. 
day, yet in that speech there are passages of such pi'ofound 
reflection and philosophic scope as will give it a value to 
the political student at all times. Cf the three prorr-sitions 
which he laid down as applicable to the emergency then ex- 
isting, the two latter comprehend the highest Vv'isdom in our 
own day: "Reduce the expenditures to the lowevt point 
consistent vv'ith an efficient public service;" "Levy such du- 
ties as are necessary for an economical administration of the 
government, and no more." 

When the Apportionment Bill in 1842 was under i-v\)<': \- 
eration, very strong opposition, headed by Mr. Biuhiinai!, ot 
Pennsylvania, and iMr. Wright, of New York, was made to 
the Districting clause. Mr. Graham, on June the od, ii.d- 
dressed the Senate in support of the clause. In a cabn. • >; 
densed, weighty and conclusive argument, he dci! 


that rhu Disti-'u-t system of electiru' liepreseiitatives to Con- 
<iTe-s. was in eoiitV)r!nit_v t) tlie true theory of Representati\-e 
Ooveninient, and was the one contemphited and expected l)y 
the frauiers of the government; that it was sanctioned by 
usage ahnost nnanhnons in the old States, and Ity the usage 
of two-thirds of the new ; that the general ticket system was 
iVanght with evils, public and private; Jiay. with dangers to 
the Union. There was a [)assage in that debate which so 
forcibly ilhistrates the high moral plane n|K)n which he dis- 
t'ussed public ailairs, that I cannot pass it by. It was ob- 
jected l)y Mr. Woodbury, of Xew Hampshire, that if the Act 
were passed l)y < <.)Ugress, it hvA no means of enforcing it. 
He wished to kno\v whether an armed force or a writ of 
"Bnandamus would be ser;t to the State Legislatures to compel 
Ihem to lay olt" the Districts. In reply Mr, Graham ^howed 
that if, notwithstanding the lavr, a State should return 
members according to general ticket, the House of Repre- 
tsentatives, as judge of the election of its members, could 
jiroiioiince such election a nuHltv. '• But the duties of the 
States under our Constitution," said he, " are not to be de- 
termined by their liability to [)unishment, but by the coven- 
smts into which they entered by tliat instrument. It is 
faith, honor, conscience, and not the 'hang-man's wliip.' on 
"^vhich, at last rest tlie blessings of this nol)lest human insti- 
tution which has ever been devised for the security, the 
welfare and haj>[»in!-ss of man." In tliis exclamation, he nn- 
tionsciously announce*! those great principles ])y v.-hich his 
ov.ui conduct tjjrough life -was regulated, and to vrhose 
slightest behest he ever yielded an unhesitating obedience. 

A short time after — Fuly 25, 1842 — he received the fol- 
lovring letter from Chancellor Kent : '■ I thank you for your 
speech on the Districting clause of the Apportionment Bill. 
I have read it carefully, and I deem it in every respect logi- 
>eal, conclusive, and a vindication of the jower assumed l)y 
the Bill, in language clear and specific, tempered with due 


modei:ation:aiul tirmnosr;. Tlie District System is essential 
to check and control the CTinning machinery of Faction."* 

After the ex]arati<»ii of his term — ]\Iarch o, 1843 — Mr. 
Graham resumed tne ]>ractice of his profession. 

In 1844 he was nominated by the Whig party of Xorth 
Carolina for the oflice of Governor. He had not sought the 
nomination ; nay, would have declined it if he could have 
done so consistently with his high conceptions of the duty 
of a citizen. In 1830 he had married the daughter of the 
late John "Washington, Esq., of Newliern, a lad\' of rare 
beauty and accomplishments — a union which brought to him 
as much of ha[ipiness as it is the lot of man to know. From 
this union a young and growing family was gathering around 
him. His patrimony had not been large, and the require- 
ments of his family demanded his cf»nstant professional exer- 
tions. He was now at tlie summit of his proiession, and his 
emoluments would be limited only by the nature of the 
business in an agricultural State, whei'e commerce existed 
to only a small extent, and mamifactures were in their 
infancy. His attention had been much withdrawn from his 
profession during his Senatorial career, and besides the ex- 
pense and loss of time in a State canvass, he would, if elected, 
be entirely precluded from the exercise <>f his professio.i 
during his term of office. The salary of the office was small, 
and a residence in the capital as Chief ^lagistrate would 
render necessary an increased scale of expense. On the other* 
hand, were considerations of great weight. Letters came to 
him from many gentlemen of high standing in various parts 
of the State, pressing his acceptance by every consideration 
that could be addressed to an elevated mind. aSIorcover he 
was not unmindful of the honors which had been conferred 
upon him, and not ungrateful. He held, too, that the cir- 
cumstances must be very exceptional, which could justify a 
citizen in withholding his services when called to a public 
station by the general voice of th.e peojile. To determine 
his duty cost him much anxious reflection ; but the latter 


consideration proved decisive. Tlie decision once made, he 
acteil with his accustomed energy. 

His nomination was hailed with satisfaction throughout 
the Union. Among other letters which he then received, 
giving expression to this feeling, was one from Mr. Clay. 
In conclusion he thus expressed himself: " Still, I should 
have preferred that you were in another situation, where the 
whole Union would have benefitted by your services," 

His opponent was Colonel Mike Iloke. lie was born in 
the same county with jMr. Graham, and was nearlj' of the 
same age. He was a gentleman of fine i)erson, of fine ad- 
)lress, of considerable Legislative experience, and of high 
})Osition at the Bar. The canvass was well contested on both 
sides; on the part of Mr. Graham it was conducted with 
surpassing ability. AVhen it came to the vote he led his 
competitor by several thousand majority. 

He was inaugurated on the 1st of January, 1845, the oaths 
•of office being administered by Chief Justice Ruffin. The 
Raleigh Beglster of that date remarks, that " the audience 
-vhich witnessed the ceremony, for everything that could 
.uiake the occasion imposing, has never been surpassed within 
<)ur recollection. The lobbies and galleries were crowded 
with strantrers and citizens, and a brilliant assemblage of 

The Inaugural Address was worthy of the speaker. It is 
full of lofty thoughts and wise suggestions. It is pervaded 
throughout by that })hilosophic tone which belonged to 
whatever he wrote or spoke. The earlier part contains poli- 
tical reflections of such weight and value, that I would 
gladly present them if they could he condensed into a less 
space. In this address, as ahvays, he held up the State as 
the worthy object of our best aft'ections. His glance at the 
working of our State government since its organization, was 
calculated to exalt to the highest degree the popular esti- 
mate of the Constitution. Some of the noblest institutions 
of our State had practically their inception in the recom- 


mendutions of that Inaiigaral— as the Asykim for the insane, 
and the Asylum for the deaf and dumb. Here, too, prac- 
tically dates the origin of that great measure of scientific 
progress — the Geological Survey, by which North Carolina 
■stands so enviably distinguished among her sister States 
immediately around her. He gives just prominence in this 
address to the Common School System, which then had been 
just introduced. The Universit}', which always commanded 
the entire homage of his heart, has its due place here. In 
the latter half he takes a survey of the State — her physical 
condition and her needs — and suggests from the resources of 
political economy, the true principles of her future progress' 
He dwells, toward the conclusion, with just exultation upon 
the high character which our people enjoyed for honesty and 
fidelity. " Thus far," said he, " our escutcheon is unstained — 
the public faith has been kept ; the public honor inviolate." 
History will record that it was always so, while North Caro- 
linians had the control of their State. The last sentence is 
•characteristic of the man; it breathes a devout invocation 
that pur beloved State should not outstrip her sister States 
in the career of ambition and of glory, but '' that she may 
be permitted to ' walk in her integrity,' the object of our 
loj'alty and pride, as she is the home of our hearts and affec- 
tions." I have dwelt upon this address because it epitomises 
the measures, and exhibits the spirit of his administration. 
It wonld be impossible to present here any view of the pro- 
gress of the State during his administration. His first term 
was so acceptable that he was elected for the second by a 
largely-increased vote. His two terms embrace that period 
during which North Carolina made the greatest progress in 
all her interests.* The messages of his very able predecessor, 


Governor Morcliead, followed up by liis own, drew the- 
attention <»f the whole State to the subject of Internal Im- 
provements, and a powerful impulse was given to that great 
i]iterest. Space would tail me for a separate notice of eacli 
of the great interests (tf the State. To sum np in brief^ 
whatever could tend to her material or intellectual progress- 
was duly fostered and encoui-aged. 

His messages were regarded as among tiie best State- 
papers of his day. (_)f this I could cite many proofs ; I must 
content njyself with one. In a letter, Mr. Webster writes, 
as follows : •• The tone which your Message holds, in regard 
to the relatio]is between the State Government and the Gen- 
eral Government is just, proper, dignified and constitutional^ 
and the views which it presents on questions of internal 
policv, the development of resources, the improvement of 
markets, and the gradual advancement of industry and 
wealth, are such as belong to the age, and are important to 
our country in all its parts/' His earnest recommendation) 
of a Geological Surv<n' elicited from Prof. Olmstead, a letter 
commending his views expressed in that regard, in which 
he said : " There is no State in the Union which would 
better reward the labor and expense of a Geological Survey- 
than North Carolina." 

In 1849 he delivered the Address before the Literary 
Societies at Chapel Hill. His'subject was a cursory view of" 
the objects of liberal education. This Address stands out 
in Avide contrast to those which have been customary on 
such occasions, and is^solid, sterling, practical. It is a vin- 
dication of the University^curriculum. Subjects of highest 
interest are discussed, and with all due attractions of style- 
It concludes with brief, but weighty suggestions to the 
graduating class, calculated to stimulate to high aims iii 
virtue, knowledge and patriotism. 

Public honors have been coy to most men ; it was the 
reverse in his case. They waited around him with perpetual 
solicitations. In 1849, Mr. Mangum, one of the confidential 

( 25 ) 

advisers of the I'resident, wrote to Mr. Graham that he- 
might make his election between the Mission to Russia and 
the Mission to Spain. Sahsequently the Mission to Spain, 
was tendered to, and declined by him. 

Upon the accession of Mr. Fillmore to the Presidency, it 
seat in the Cabinet was tendered to Mr, Graham. In the 
letter addressed to him by the President, informing him of 
his appointment, he said : " I trust that you will accept the- 
office, and enter upon the discharge of its duties at the- 
earliest day. I am sure that the appointment will be highly- 
acceptable to the country, as I can assure you, your accept- 
ance will be gratitying to me." In a letter couched in proper- 
terms, dated Jul}- 25, he communicated his acceptance. 

His first report as Secretary of the Navy is dated the 30tb 
of N'ovember, ISoO. His diligence, during the two months- 
which had elapsed from the time when he assumed office, is 
attested by the comprehensive nature of that report. It 
embraced a review of the whole Xaval establishment, accom- 
panied b}^ recommendations, which, in many particulars,., 
went to the extent of a re-organization of the ISTavj'. The- 
recommendations involved, especiall}-, great changes in the- 
2)ersonnel of the Xavy : such as the retirement of officers, 
promotions on a new system, and other changes equally" 
great, and it is with pleasure we observe the spirit c f equity 
and the sense of delicacy which pervade these recommenda- 
tions — equity in providing compensation for retiring officers : 
delicacy in the manner in which the changes are to be car- 
ried into effecr. The subject matter of this, and subsequent 
reports, lies beyond the domain of our observation. I there- 
fore subjoin a few testimonials from many at hand, to assist 
our judgment of this part of his career. 

A distinguished Senator of great experience and wide- 
national reputation wrote as follows of his first report r 
*' You had a new field opened to you and well and ahly have 
you occupied every portion of it. The report is to be prop- 
erly characterized by a bold originality of conception, and. 

( 26 ) 

a fearlessness of responsibility, too rare iu that class of State 

"You have had to grapple with a system built up by a 
series of abuses, and to use the knife — that fearful and un- 
popular instrument — somewhat unsparingly. 

" If I do not greatly err, it will give you more reputation 
in the country than anything you have hitherto produced 
before the public." 

In a letter dated the 19th of February, 1851, Mr. Benton 
wrote as follows: "I have just read a second time, your 
report on the Coast Survey Subject. I consider it one of the 
most perfect reports I ever read — a model of a business 
report, and one which should carry conviction to every can- 
-did, inquiring mind. I deem it one of the largest reforms^ 
both in an economical and administrative point of view, 
"^vhich the state of our affairs admits of." 

His administration of the Navy Department was signalized 
•by an enterprise, which, for the completeness of the success 
with which it was crowned, was one of the most remarkable 
of the age — the Japan expedition. A brief retrospect will 
assist us to appreciate its difficulties and triumphs. In the 
year 1G37 was consumated a revolution in the Empire of 
•Japan, which resulted in the banishment of the Portugese, 
the only European people who had free access to that Em- 
pire, and who appeared to have iirmly tixed themselves 
there. While the merchants of that nation succeeded in 
possessing themselves of nearly the whole foreign trade of 
the country, its missionaries had exerted not less activity in 
the conversion of the natives to the faith of Rome. The 
secular rulers, with most of the Frinces, had accepted the 
Christian religion ; it was reckoned that, about that period, 
one-half of the inhabitants were Christians- The new revo- 
lution re-established the ancient religion. In the forty years' 
persecution which succeeded, many millions of lives were 
sacrificed, and the Christian religion, it was supposed, ex- 
tino;uished there forever. 


In consequence of this revolution all trade and intercourse 
with civilized nations were cut oft', except with the Dutch, 
and as to them, was limited in amount, and circumscribedHo 
one place. This concession, moreover, was purchased by the 
most abject submission, and was attended with the greatest 
humiliation. A verj- limited trade was likewise permitted 
to China. With these exceptions the Japanese had with- 
drawn from the world. The settled feeling of the people 
was one of unmixed liostility to all nations professing the 
christian religion ; the settled policy of the government, one 
of non-intercourse with such nations, diplomatic or commer- 
cial. Within the centur}- preceding that expedition, the 
JCnglish had made many eftbrts, as had also the Russians 
since 1792, to establish intercourse with a country abound- 
ing with so many objects of desire to civilized man'. All of 
these efforts had failed in turn. In 1846 an attempt to ac- 
<:'om]-lish the same object was made by the United States. 
A fleet was sent under Commodore Biddle, which came to 
anchor at Jeddo, in .July of that year. It remained ten days, 
but no one was pemiitted to land, and nothing was accom- 
plished. In 1849 the Preble, under Commodore Glynn, was 
sent out to Japan to demand the release of sixteen American 
sailors who had been wrecked on one of the islands, and who 
had been detained in prison many months — an imprisonment, 
the hardship of which was aggravated by great cruelty and 
inhumanit}'. After various resorts, intended apparently to 
test the temper of the Commander and the government 
which he represented ; after various delays, occasioned by 
the evasive diplomacy' of Japanese oflicials, the prisoners 
were, at length, delivered up and brought home. The duty 
of giving adequate protection to American citizens, thus 
added another motive for opening up intercourse witVi Japan. 
In the mind of Mr. Graham the obligation of this duty was 
supreme. A government which failed to give protection to 
its citizens on every part of the earth's surface, and among 
every people was, in his opinion, a government but \n name. 


lie therefore resolved, in vvhieli resolution he was strongly 
supported l)_y the I'resident. to send an expedition to Japan 
and bring that empire within the pale and eomity of civil- 
i^^ed nations. The command was assigned to Commodore 
I'eri'v, The event showed what statesmanlike sagacity was 
exercised in planning the expedition and in the selection of 
its leader. Everything that was contemplated Avas accom- 
plished. The success of that expedition constitutes one of 
the principal claims of Mr. Filmore's administration to the 
admiration of the country and of posterity. Its success con- 
stitutes, indeed, an era in the history of the world. Its re- 
sults have been great and cannot but be enduring. It has 
placed our relations with Japan upon a just and honorable 
basis It lias given a new direction to much ®f the commerce 
of the AVorld — jiouring its fertilizing tide through the heart 
of the American continent. Its eft'ects upon Japan are but 
beginning to be seen; yet already they exceed what would 
have been brought about in the ordinary course of affairs in 
a thousand years Xo people have ever availed themselves 
of the light of a superior civilization as the Ja^ianese have. 
In that light the}^ have seen the untitness of many of their 
old institutions and have abandoned' tliem ; they have seen 
the unlitness of their language for foreign intercourse, and 
are preparing to substitute the English language. The 
changes thus made are harbingers of progress wdiich will 
justify the most lively anticipations for the future. The 
friends of humanity and religion, especially, hail the pros- 
pect with delight. They see in what has been already done, 
the prospect of an entire change in the institutions of that 
lai.d. They hope, at no distant day, to see liberal institu- 
tions introduced there. They hope to see a universal recog- 
nition of popular rights, where the bonds of caste have been 
so inexorable ; to see equal laws take the place of a despot's 
will, and to see the Christian religion again introduced, 
never more to be disturbed in its peaceful reign. 

Another expedition was sent out in 1851 under the direc- 

( 2!» ^ 

tion of the iN'avy ])eiiai'tinc'iit. The (ilueet ^v;ls the OA}>l<)ra- 
tion of the A'allej of the Amazon in the intererits of eorn- 
nierce. The instructions to Lieutenant HernihMi — to whose 
cliarjje the exjiedition was eoniiiled — ec^ntained in the letter 
of Mr. Graham, of Februai-y I'th. were full and particular. 
They embraced the position of the country — the navigabili- 
ty of its streams — its capacities for trade and commerce — 
and its future i)rospects. In Fel>ruary, 1.^54, tlie report was 
published by order of Congress. It contains the most am}>le 
information upon all the ]»oints embraced in the instructions. 
In the London " Westminster Keview"" of tliat year, it was 
noticed with just cicdit to the author, and due recognition 
of the enlightened policy which })rojected the expedition. 

In the year IH.jO, were }tassed those great measures of na- 
tional healing, kinA\ n as the Comjiromise ^.Teasui-es. These 
constituted a. part of a series of measures resorted to at short 
intervals in our history, to give })eace to the ever recurrino 
agitation on the subject of slavery. This question had ].»cen 
a disturbing one from the commencement oi' our national 
existence. It had presented a formidable Itarrier to the for- 
mation of our federal constitution; this was removed by an 
adjustment, based upon sutfrage. It obtruded itself u\»)\\ 
Congress in 1790, in a petition tor the abolition of slavery, 
headed by Dr. I'ranklin ; this \Aas [mt at rest for a time by 
a resolution of that Itody, diselaimingany autliority to inter- 
fere in the emancipation of slaves, or with their treatment 
in any of the States. It emerged again in 1820, in a more 
menacing form than before, startling the countiy, as Mr. 
Jetferson expressed it, "like a iire-bell in the night ;" it was 
now quieted by the jSlissouri compromise — long regarded as 
a ''solemn compact and covenant"" upon the basis of a fair 
division of the puldic domain between the free an<l slave 
States. The question was put at rest for a long time, and it 
was hoped that the rest was final. It sprung up again in 
1840, in connection with the vast territory acquired by the 
conquest of Mexico, to which it was proposed to apply the 


" Wilmot Proviso," which restricted slavery in aii}^ newly 
acquired territory without regard to the ]Slissouri compro- 
mise line. The old settlement being thus repudiated, the 
country was given up to agitation, in which every turbulent 
passion seemed let loose. This agitation raged with increas- 
ing violence througn every session down to the administra- 
tion of General Taylor and of his successor, Mr. Fillmore. 
With the progress of the discussion the sessions grew longer 
and the passions of men more stormy. It was a time of pro- 
found anxiety and apprehension. The imminence of the 
danger brought back Mr. Clay to the Senate ; his great com- 
peers, Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Webster, were already there. 
To Mr. Clay, more than any other, the eyes of the counti-y 
were turned at this crisis, lie had once before quieted the 
storm which threatened the country from the same quarter ■ 
it was believed that all men would listen to him now It 
was believed that the winds and waves of faction would still 
obey his voice. He was in the fulness of his fame. In 
abilities he had no superior, in eloquence ho had no peer; in 
patriotism he ranked with the Revolutionary sires. The 
country did not look to him in vain. 

On the 29th of January he brought forward his celebrated 
measures of conciliation and adjustment. They encountered 
great opposition. In their progress they were altered in 
form; but in substance they were tinally passed. These 
measures were approved everywhere, and gave satisfaction 
to an overwhelming majority of the country. 

AVe, standing amid the wrecks and ruins, in which that 
agitation finally resulted ; taught, alas ! liy the most mourn- 
ful of all wisdom, that which comes after the fact accom- 
plislied, know that this healing was but a delusion. We 
know that this slavery question was a cancer, which, though 
it might heal over and wear the external appearance of 
health, struck deeper in with each specific, to re-appear with 
increased virulence. Yet it was for a time a miracle of 
healing. The measures themselves were eminently wise i 


nay, the utmost that human wisdom could do. They gave- 
peace to the country— a profound peace of many years. A 
part of that triumph belongs to Korth Crrolina. Her favorito 
statesman was then in the cabinet, and shared in the coun- 
sels by which these results were brought about. During the 
progress of these measures he was in constant conference 
with their author, and to the opinion of none did their- 
author pay greater deference. 

llis labors as Secretary of the Xavy were brought to a 
sudden termination. The Whig party met in convention on 
the 16th of June, 1852, and put in nomination fur the Presi- 
dency General Scott, and for the Vice-Presidency Mr. Gra- 
ham. Mr. (Traham's preference for the l/'residency was in 
favor of Mr. Fillmore, and without a distinct declaration of 
principles, and an approval of the course of his administra- 
tion, he would not have permitted his name to be placed on 
any other ticket. This declaration was made, and in terms 
as explicit as he could wish ; with that declaration, it be- 
came a mere calculation of chances which was the candidate 
the most acceptable to the country. Under these circum- 
stances he accepted the nomination. Immediately on his 
acceptance, with a view as he expressed it, "to relieve the 
administration of any possible criticism or embarrassment 
on his account in the approaching canvass," he tendered his 
resignation. The President "appreciating the high sense of 
delicacy and propriety" which prompted this act, accepted 
his resignation with expressions of "unfeigned regret." 

In Mr. Stephen's History of the United States, it is said 
that in accepting the nomination tendered him by the- 
Whigs, General Scott "cautiously avoided endorsing that 
portion of the AVhig platform which pledged the party to- 
an acceptance of, and acquiescence in the measures of 1850." 
If avoidance there was, it was because he deemed it unneces- 
sary to pledge his faith to measures wnth which he was so 
intimately identitied. He was acting Sci-retary of War dur- 
ing the pendency of these measures. "No one," says Mr. 

■<Traliuiii ill a letter to a friend, "more deepiy felt the im- 
portanee of the crisis, or co-operated with us more efficiently 
in procuring the passage of the Compromise Measure, or 
Tejoieed more heartily in the settlement thereby made.'"' 
With a soldier's sentiment of honor, General Scott rested on 
Siis record, whieli was open to all the world. But the charge 
•of unfaithfulness to those measures was made against him, 
iind urged with fatal effect. And so it came to pass that 
the two eaiididates who had exerted all their abilities, and 
=used all tlieir inliuenue, official and other, to secure the pas- 
tsage of the ('omiu'omise Measures, were beaten upon the 
•charge alleged against one of them of unfaithfulness to those 

After his retirement from the cabinet, and in the same 
year — 18.",2— he delivered the sixth lecture in the course, 
before the Historical Society of New York, in Metrojiolitau 
Hall, in tlie city of >Tevr York. ''The attendance," we, are 
told in the " Evening Post" of that date, " was exeeedmgly 
aiumerous. " Ever anxious to exalt his S':ate, and set her 
before the world in her true glory, his subject vras taken 
from the history of North Carolina. It was the British in- 
A-asion of Xorth Carolina in 1780 and "81. 

It is kn.own what scant justice has been done to our State 
by tlie early historians of the country. This injustice ^Ir. 
■Graham, as far as a lecture would admit, undertook to re- 
dress. 'J hough his suljject confined him to the events of less 
than two years, and took up the story five years after the 
Urst blood had been shed at Lexington, and four years after 
the Declaration of Independence, he presents a rapid and 
-graphic sketch of what v,-a* done in Xorth Carolina down to 
the year 1780. He depicts tlie advanced state of opinion in 
lS"orth Carolina before the war : he recounts the military 
<:»xp editions sent out by her in support of the conniion cause; 
iind shows that '-from Xew York to Florida, inclusive, there 
were few battle-fields on which a portion of the troops en- 
gaged in defense of the liberties of the country were not 


hers.'' lie then places before us in strong colors, the period 
just before Lord Coruwcillis commenced his famous march — 
that period so justl}' designated as the dark days of the 
Revolution ; when Georgia and South Carolina had been 
•over-run and subjugated ; when the arm}' of the South had 
been nearly annihilated by the disastrous battle of Camden 
and the catastrophe of Fishing Creek, lie relates the bold 
measures — measures which call to mind those of Rome, at 
similar crises of peril — with which the State of North Caro 
lina prepared to meet the impending shock. He then enters 
^ipon a narrative of the different operations of the American 
and British armies under their respective commanders, 
Greene and Cornwallis, and a finer narrative it would be 
difficult to point out. A bare recital of the incidents of that 
campaign could not want interest in the hands of the driest 
historian, but in this narrative it is brought before us in 
vivid colors. By his brief but striking delineation of the 
princi[)al actors; by his rapid touches in which the relative 
titate of the Whig and Tory population of that day is brought 
to view ; by his sketches of the scenery of the Piedmont 
<;'ountry — the theater of that campaign; by Ins notices of 
individual adventure; above all, by his masterly recital of 
the incidents of the retreat of General Greene and the pur- 
suit of Lord Cornwallis — a retreat in which the hand of 
Providence seemed from time to time, so visibly interposed 
— the grand procession of events pass bsfore us with the 
interest of an acted drama. We experience a feeling of deep 
relief, when at length, the army of Greene is placed in safety. 
After taking breath, which we had held as it were, during 
the quick succession of events in that celebrated retreat, we 
retrace our steps and the interest culminates in the battle of 
Guilford. "The philosophy of history," says Mr. Benton in 
his ' Thirty ^' ear's View,' has not yet laid hold of the battle 
of Guilford ; its consequences aiul events. That battle made 
the capture of Yorktown. The events are told in history, 
the connections and dependence in none." The future his- 


torian will find the task done to his hand in this Lecture^ 
Its decisive character is there appreciated and set forth. 

In tlie remainder of the Lecture he glances at the minor 
invasion of Colonel Craig, and the operations under his com- 
mand from the valley of the Neuse to the highlands of 
Chatham, and at the romantic career of the vile but intrepid 
Fanning, lie gives us a sketch of Governor Burke, his cap- 
ture and escape. He presents a brief view of the expedition: 
of General Rutherford against the British post at Wilming- 
ton, who, after many skirmishes, drove and kept the British^ 
and Loyalists within the lines of the garrison, until the 
evacuation of the town, and the retreat of the enemy to- 
Charleston, lie sets out the forces sent forth by North Caro- 
lina, under General Sumter, which forces formed a conspic- 
uous part of Greene's line at Eutaw, and followed the flag of 
the Union until the disapj^eai-ance of the enemy's sails off" 
the Harbor of Charleston. 

The Lectui'c closes with some reflections on the " Act of 
pardon and Oblivion"' passed by the Legislature, after the- 
proclamation of peace, at its first session in 17b3. "An Act,''" 
says i\Ir. Graham, *'of grace and magnanimity, worthy of the^ 
heroic, but Christian awd forbearing spirit which liad tri- 
umphed in the struggle just ended." The words have a 
peculiar and melanclioly significance to us, who recollect 
how Ions after the war, he stood amon<r us as an alien and a. 
stranger, deprived of the commonest right of citizenship z. 
and how by mistaken party t^pirithe was debarred the enjoy- 
ment of those Senatorial lionors, with which a grateful peo- 
ple would have cheered and crowned tlie evening of his. 

This Lecture will, I think, be regarded as the maturestor 
his literary eflbrts. It j)resents the events of the time of 
which it treats in new combinations, and sheds upon them 
new lights from original investigations. The style is always, 
clear, forcible and harmonious. Classic ornament is intro- 
duced to an extent rare for him ; for though he retained his 


classical learning to the cud of his life, his sense of fitness 
led him to ein|)loy very sparingly, what any one might be 
disposed to attribute to ostentation. Altogether it is the- 
most valuable contribution yet made to the history of North 
(-arolina at that era. It sets the State in a justerlight thaii 
anything on record. It particularly commends itself to all 
who cherish in their hearts the sacred fiame of State-love 
and State-pride ; to all who hold in honor the renown of their 
ancestry ; to all who would catch 

"Ennobling jniimlse fi'om Ihe imst." 

Mr. Graliam was again a member of the Legislature in 
1854-'o. The great (piestion of that session was what was 
popularlj' known as "Free SutiVage." Its object was to 
abolish the property qualification for the Senate, and extend 
to ever}' voter the same right of suftVage, whether fjr the 
Senate or the House. To this extension of suffrage per se he 
made no objection. He contended, however, that the C(.)n- 
stitution was based upon carefully adjusted compi-omises of 
contiicting interests, and that an amendment of the consti- 
tution continod to this single point — as it must necessaril/ 
be if carried out by the Legislative method — would disturb 
those compromises and thus destroy or greatly im})air the 
harmony of that instrument. He, therefore, advocated tlio 
calling of a convention, that all the questions embraced in 
these compromises might be duly considered, and other parts 
re-adjusted to suit those which might be changed. These 
views were presented in a speech, memorable for its ability. 
In the former part he discusses the question at issue, and 
here will be found some of the finest examples of his skill as 
a dialectician ; in the latter part he gave an exposition of 
the subject in all its constitutional bearings — an exposition 
learned, lucid and concdusive. 

The administration (d' Mr. iJuchanan drew to its close 
amidst signs ominous for the future tranquility of the coun- 


irv. Those signs awakened the fears of all who lovcli and 
valued the Union, and the trusted statesmen of the country 
made arrangements to meet for conferenee, and to give ex- 
pression to tlieir views. The Executive Committee of the 
Constitutional Union party determined early in January, 
1860, to issue an address to the people of the United States 
upon the grave exigencies in national })olitics. A committee 
of seven, all men of the highest national distinction, among 
■whom was Mv Graham, was ap[»ointed to prepare the 
address. Mr. C'rittenden notified him of his appointment in 
a letter of January 21th, and urged his attendance at the 
meeting of the committee. In his answer, \h'. Graham had 
left it doubtful whether the pressure of his engagements 
>vould permit his attendance, and rerpiested that another 
might be api)ointed in his place Accordingly Governor 
^forehead was appointed. l>nt Mr. Crittenden wrote again, 
.and to show the importance attached to his judgment and 
action, I subjoin an extract from his letter: ''The crisis is 
important, and fills the public mind ^^■itll expectation and 
anxiety. It is earnestly to be desired that the character of 
our convention should be conspicuous and equal to the occa- 
sion. We have good reason to feel assured of tlie attendance 
of many of the most eminent men of the country, and it is 
by the great weight of the moral and [»ublic character of its 
members that the convention must hope to obtain for its 
acts or counsels, whatever they may l)e. respect and influence 
T\'ith the people. We cannot do without youv assistajice and 
name. All the members of the committee, who were })resent 
"when your letter was read, mated in wishing me to write 
and to urge your coming to the convention. Your al)sence 
will be a positive v:eight against us." 

A number of eminent statesmen, among wliom was Mr. 
Graham, met in AVashington City, in Febi'uary, to consult 
together upon the dangers which menaced the country. The 
result was the convention which nominated the Constitutional 
Union ticket for the Presidency, in belialf of wliich he can- 


vassed tlie State. Upon the election of Mi'. Lincoln be made- 
public addresses, and exborted the people to yield due obe- 
dience to bis otHcc. 

But tbe tempest bad long been gatbering, and was novs' 
ready to burst. Ko buman })0vver could avert it. Tbe people 
of Soutb Carolina, and of tbe otber States of tbe far South,, 
bad beeu educated in Ibe doctrine of secession, and there- 
were few in those States who did not liold that doctrine as. 
an undeniable article of political faith. The time was come 
when this doctrine was to be tested. The election of Mr. 
Lincoln constituted the cause in the minds of tbe people of 
South Carolina. On tbe 20tb of December, 1860, that State: 
held a convention, and decilared her connection with tbe- 
United States dissolved, ant! proceeded to put herself in aa 
attitude to make good her declaration. In this action she- 
was followed by States to tbe soutb of licr, and on similar- 

The doctrine of secession met with little favor in Xortk 
Carolina. As a right deduced from tbe Constitution, and to 
be exercised under its authority, it was believed by Mr. 
Graham, and the school of statesmen to wbich be belonged, 
to be without foundation. Tbe Legislature of Xorth Caro- 
lina directed tbe question of a convention to be submitted to 
tbe people. The question wps discussed, in the light of re- 
cent events, by tbe Press of tbe State, and numerous meetings 
of tbe people were held in every part. These meetings were 
addressed by our ablest men. Amongst these a monster 
meeting was beld at Salisbury, which was addressed by 
Governor Morebead, Mr. Badger and Mr. Graham, wbo, as- 
well for the exalted positions they bad held as for their com- 
manding abilities, were looked to for counsel in this emer- 
gency. Tbe people at the polls pronounced witb great 
unanimity against a convention. 

But events were marching on with rapid strides. On the 
13th of April, 1861, Sumter surrendered to Confederate guns.. 
On the 15tb, Mr. Lincoln issued bis call for 75,000 troops.. 


This call was made without authority, and was the first of 
that series of public measures culminating in the unauthor- 
ized suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act on the 10th of 
May, under the shock of which the public liberties of the 
North for a time went down. 

By these events the aspect of things was wholly changed. 
The question of secesJ^ion as a right, Avhcther the election of 
Mr. Lincoln w^as a just cause for the exercise of the right, 
had drifted out of sight. War was inevitable. Virginia 
had followed the example of the Southern States, and North 
Carolina was now girdled with seceded States. All that was 
left her was a choice of sides. The language of Mr. Graham 
at this crisis was the language of all thoughtful men ; nay, 
it was the language of the human heart. And looking back 
upon all tliat we have suffered — and there are none, even in 
the Northern States, but say we have suffered enough— if a 
similar conjuncture were to arise, the heart would speak out 
the same language again. Speaking the voice of the people 
of North Carolina, as he, from the high trusts confided to 
him in his past life, and from the confidence always reposed 
in him, was more than any other commissioned to do, in a 
public address at Ilillsboro, in March, 1861, he expressed 
himself as follows : 

'■ Ardent in their attachment to the Constitution and the 
Union, they had condemned separate State secession as rash 
iind precipitate, and wanting in respect to the sister 
States of identical interests ; and as long as there was hope 
of an adjustment of sectional differences, they were unwilling 
to part with the Government, and give success to the move- 
ment for its overthrow, which appeared on the part of some, 
nt least, to be but the revelation of a long cherished design. 
But the President gives to the question new alternatives. 
These are, on the one hand, to join with him in a war of 
conquest, for it is nothing less, against our brethren of the 
seceding States — or, on the other, resistance to and throwing 
off the obligations of the Federal Constitution. Of the two, 


we do not hesitate to accept the latter. Blood is thicker 
than water. How widely we have differed from, and freely 
criticized the course taken by these States, they are much 
more closely united with us, by the ties of kindred, affection, 
;and a peculiar interest, which is denounced and warred upon 
at the JSTorth, without reference to any locality in our own 
section, than to any of the Northern States." 

Under the influence of these counsels, so wnsely and tem- 
perately expressed, a convention of the people of North Caro- 
lina was called. On the 20tli of May, a day memorable in 
the annals of the State and of the world, the convention 
passed the ordinance of secession. 

For this ordinance the vote was unanimous. But though 
the vote indicated an entire unanimity among the members 
it was unanimity only as to the end to be accomplished. 
The views of Mr. Graham, aiul the statesmen with whom he 
acted, had, in regard to secession as a Constitutional remedy, 
undergone no chano;o. To set forth their views, Mr. Bado-er 
■offered a series of resolutions in the nature of a protestation 
— an exclusion of a conclusion. These resolutions asserted 
the right of revolution, and based the action of the conven- 
tion on that ground ; but the minds of men had been Avrought 
to such a pitch of excitement that the distinction was un- 
heeded, and the resolutions failed. 

On the 20th of June tne convention passed the ordinance 
by which the State of North Carolina became a member of 
the Confederacy. To this measure Mr. Graham offered a 
.strong but fruitless opposition. In the perilous career upon 
which we were about to enter he was unwilling to surrender 
the sovereignty of the State into the hands of those whose 
rash counsels had, in the judgment of the people of North 
Carolina, precipitated the war. lie wished tlie State to hold 
her destinies in her own hands, that she might act as ex- 
igencies might require. Those who realize the delusive 
views under which the government at Richmond acted dur- 


itig tliG last months of the Avar will see in this opinion^ 
another proof of his wise foresight. 

The progress of the war which now broke out with such 
fury denionstrated that there were here, as at the North,, 
those who conceived that the public peril had merged the 
constitution and the laws. Early in the session " an ordi- 
nance to deiinc and punish sedition and to prevent the dan- 
gers whieli may arise from persons disatiected to tlie State," 
was introduced. 

On the 7th of December Mr. Graham addressed the con- 
vention in opposition to this ordinance. The speech wdiich 
he delivered on this occasion was, perhaps, the noblest effort 
of his life. It breathes the true spirit of American freedom. 
It is the product of a mind deeply imbued with the great 
principles of civil liberty, and which had devoutly meditated, 
upon all those safeguards which the wisdom of successive 
generations had thrown around it. Ilis wide acquaintance 
with history liad made him familiar with every device by 
which liberty may be sapped and undermined ; his exalted 
estimate of its value and dignity had developed this ac- 
quaintance into a special sense by which he could detect any 
design hostile to it, under any pretence or subterfuge, how- 
ever specious or skillful. This special faculty is strikingly 
exhibited in this speech in tracing and laying bare the dan- 
gerous tendencies which everywhere lurked under this ordi- 
nance. It abounds wntli historical illustrations and allu- 
sions. It contains passages of graphic eloquence — that,, 
among others, in which he sketches the settlement of the 
Society of Friends in this State, and with a few touches de- 
picts the genius of that sect. It is pervaded by a warmth 
and animation unwonted in his speeches, sometimes, indeed, 
bordering ui)on enthusiasm. In none of his parliamentary 
efforts does he seem to have yielded so freely to his native 
impulses and feelings. It is strictly logical in its structure 
and advances by regular progression. In its style it is nerv- 
ous and idomatic, and the thoughts are often expressed with 


the liifichest deg^ree of enor2:v and terseness. Like all 2;reat 
leaders he had the power of clothing popular thoughts in 
hricf, i^ithy expressions, which at once become current like- 
stamped coin. One such, uttered by him on that occasion^, 
was worth\ many speeches : " \\"e are resolved to be inde- 
pendent and free, not only in the end, but in the means."' 
From the commencement to the conclusion of this speech he- 
moves with equal freedom, grace and power. 

From the beginning of the war the current of power set 
steadily from the Confederate States to the Confederate- 
government; and with each year of the war, the current 
flowed on with increasing tide. AVithin its just bounds, no 
man yielded a heartier allegiance to that government than^ 
Mr. Graham ; but on the other hand, no man stood ready tO' 
oppose a firmer resistance when that government overstepped- 
those bounds. The war had been begun and was then i)rose- 
cuted for the maintenance of great principles, and it was his. 
fixed purpose that civil liberty should not, at the South as at 
the North, be engulfed in its progress. In the year 18G2 a 
minister of the gospel — a man of learning and of irreproach- 
able character — was arrested in the county' of Orange, under 
a military order, sent to Richmond and cast into prison_ 
He was not in the military service of the Confederate 
States, and therefore not amenable to military law. As a 
proceeding against a citizen, such an arrest, without charge- 
made on oath and without warrant, was in violation of all. 
law ; while his deportation beyond the limits of the State^ 
for trial by military tribunal, was in contempt of the dig- 
nity and sovereignty of the State. Mr. Graham, being ther> 
Senator from Orange, introduced a resolution demanding a. 
return of the prisoner to the State, which was passed at 
once. On introducing the resolution, he expressed the opin- 
ion that the proceeding was without the sanction of th& 
Confederate Executive, or of the Secretary of War. The 
sequel proved this supposition to be correct ; the prisoner 
was sent back with a disavowal of any knowledge of the- 


jproceeding on the part of the President or the Secretary, 
mntil the confinement of the prisoner in the military prison 
rat Richmond. The Secretary frankly admitted the errone- 
'ous nature of the arrest and imprisonment, and disclaimed 
:;all intention to interfere with the rightful jurisdiction of 
"the State. On the 22d of January, 1863 — upon the incom- 
ing of the message with the accompanying documents, 
touching the case — Mr. Graham paid a merited tribute to 
the enlightened comprehension of the relations existing be- 
tween the Confederate government and the States, evinced 
»by these sentiments, and in the further remarks submitted 
/by.hiiiii, he took occasion to re-state the great })rinciples of 
jpersonal liberty — daily more and more endangered in the 
<coarse of the war — and to impress them upon the jjublic 
mind by apt comments upon the case to which the public at- 
tention was then so strongly directed. This was the first, 
-and is believed to have been the last case, in which military 
.power was used to override civil law. 

In December, 1863, Mr. Graham was elected to the Con- 
federate Senate by a majority of two-thirds of the Legislature. 
He took his seat in Maj', 1864. There was then need of the 
l)est counsel. The brilliant successes which had crow^ned 
our arms in the early years of the war, had been replaced by 
-a succession of disasters. The battle of Gettysburg and the 
fall of Vicksburg had brought us apparently to tlie brink of 
fate. Afe the year 1864 rolled on, the prospect became 
•darker and darker, and at the end of the year the situation 
was to the last degree critical. Our territory had been cut 
in twain, and we were beleaguered by land and by sea. 
Within the area which acknowledged the Confederate Gov- 
ernment, there was great exhaustion of all kinds of military 
supplies, and a like exhaustion of all the elements for the 
•support of human life. General Lee was only able to oppose 
the front of General Grant by extending his line until it was 
ready to snap from excessive tension. To strengthen his 
force from the white race was impossible ; conscription there 


had reached its limit. General Sherman had swept through 
Georgia, and the broad track of desolation which he left 
behind him too truly told the story of our helplessness. It was 
known that each Confederate soldier w^as opposed by as many 
as five Federal soldiers ; the former scantily fed, clothed and 
shod; the latter supplied with every comfort and many 
luxuries.* It was plain there was no longer any hope of a 
successful prosecution of the war. In the midst of a dense 
gloom which shrouded the country on every side, a ray of 
light dawned in the proposed peace conference at Hampton 
Roads. Mr. Graham had endeavored to jreach this form of 
intercourse from the commencement of the session. He was 
not without hope of a peaceful termination of hostilities ; 
not so much from his estimate of the statesmanship of Presi- 
dent Davis and his C^abinet, as from the extremity of the 
case which left no other alternative. The conference took 
place on the 3rd of February, 18G5. The terms offered by 
S^ Mr. Lincoln were, that the seceded States should return to 

>k the Union under the Constitution, in the existing state of 
affairs, with slavery as it was, but liable to be abolished by 
an amendment to the Constitution. He pledged himself to 
the utmost exei'cise of the Executive powers in behalf of the 
South. The demand of the Commissioners was for indepen- 
dence. There could be no middle ground, and the confer- 
ence ended. Upon the return of the Commissioners, Mr. 
Davis and Mr. Benjamin made public speeches in Richmond, 
to hre the Southern heart anew ; but the event proved how 
little sagacity they brought to the direction of affairs at that 
supreme hour. The speeches fell still-born. 

One principle had actuated Mr Graham from the begin, 
ning of the war ; to sustain the Government in its struggles 
for independence until it should be demonstrated that our 

* The odds were exactly .''even to one. "The whole number of Confederates 
surrondered, including Lee's and all, amounted to about 110,000 under arms 
The whole number of Federals, then in the fleld, and afterwards mustered out 
of service, as the records show, amounted, in round numbers, to 1,0-30,000.' — 
StPj>henx' IJiatnT}/ of the United Stales, p. 46 i. 

resources were inadc(|Uiito for tliat cud; and when that 
sliould be seen and acknowledged, to seek, if possible, a 
peaceful solution. IIow well he' sustained it is matter of 
histor}'. He sustained it in every way in which his talents 
and his means could be made available. lie sustained it by 
his counsels in the State and in the Confederate government. 
He sustained it by blood more precious in his eyes than his 
own — all his sons, five in number, who had attained the age of 
eighteen, entered the army, and were in the army to the end. 

The inadequacy of our resources, particularly of the i)opu- 
lation from which our soldiers were <lrawn, had now been 
demonstrated. It was known to Congress; it was admitted 
by General Lee m his proposition to conscribe slaves; it was 
proclaimed from the steps of the Capitol by Mr. Benjamin : 
" Unless the slaves are armed," he said, " tlie cause is lost." 
Every exjiedient had been tried ; the extremest measures had 
been put in operation ; " hy means of conscription, impress- 
ment laws, and the suspension of the habeas corpus, the whole 
population, and all the resources of the country, had long 
before been placed at the command of the President for pi'o- 
secution of the war." All had been found unavailing. 

One resource, in the opinion of some, remained — the con- 
scription of negroes. A bill for thispur[)0se was introduced 
into Congress. It was opposed by Mv. Graham upon tlie 
ground that it was unconstitutional, as well as inexpedient 
and dangerous. His sagacious mind saw that this was a 
measure, not of safety, but a measure born of the wild prompt- 
ings'of despair. Gn the 21st of February it was indetinitely 
postponed, though it was subsequentl}- taken up and passed. 

If ever negotiation was to be resorted to. it was clear the 
time had come. We knoAv but little of what passed in the 
Confederate Congress at that time. Its proceedings were had 
in secret session ; nor is it now known whether the journals 
of the body escajied destruction. All that we know is de- 
rived from what was published by the members after the fall 
of the Confederate Government. Among these publications 
is a paper contributed by Mr. Oldham, then Senator from 

I 4o) 

Texas, to J)cr>(nv"s Ive\-lc\\', in Oct()l)or, l8()i), whicli gives us 
some information of tlie proccieJings of the Senate at that 
time. A few (.hi\s after tlio eonference at ITam}»toii Roads, 
lie informs us, a committee consisting of Messrs. Orr, Gra- 
ham and Johnson, was a|i[»oiuted to confer with the Presi- 
dent, and ascertain ^^■hat he jtroposed to (h) undei" the exist- 
ing condition of affairs. In a few (hi\'s tliey made a verbal 
report throngli Mr. Graham. "Among other things," I 
quote Mr. Oldham's Avords, " they stated that they had in- 
quired of the President his views and o])inions in regard to 
proposing to the United States to negotiate for peace u[)on 
the hasis of the Confederacy returning to the Union, and 
that lie had answered that he had no power to negotiate u 
treaty ujion such a basis ; that his authority to make treaties 
was derived from the C/Onstitution, which lie had sworn to 
sup})ort and that sucli a treaty would opei'ate as an aliroga- 
tion of the Constitution, and a dissolution of the govern- 
ment ; that the States alone, each acting for itself, in its 
sovereign ca})acity, could make such a treaty, ^[i-. Graham 
said, he gave notice that he would, in a few daj-s, introduce 
a I'esolution in favor of ojiening negotiations with the United 
States upon the basis of a return to the Union by the States 
of the Confederacy ; that he did not give the notice at the 
instance or under the instruction of the committee, but upon 
his own responsibility. The notice was received in such a 
maimer that lie never offered his resolution." 

I never saw the paper from which the foregoing quotation 
is made, and was a stranger to this passage of Mr. Grahanrs 
life until within the last forty daj's. I read it with a feel- 
ing of profound relief. I have evcM" regarded him from my 
earliest years, with the warmest admiration and the most 
affectionate respect ; hut his faihire, as I thought, to take 
some action looking to peace after the Hampton Roads con- 
ference — when the plainest dictates of humanity so clearly 
demanded it — left upon my mind the painful impression 
that he had l)eeii wantins: to himself in tliat, tlie most im- 


portant, crisis of his life. There is a deep-seated conviction 
that the blood which was shed after that conference might 
have been saved. That the Avaste of the fruits of past cen- 
turies of toil — a waste which consigned so many of the 
present and future generations to want and misery— might 
have been avoided. It is with gratitude 1 reflect that not a 
tittle of responsi])ility for this blood-shed and waste lay at 
his door. And when the inevitable hour came to him, I 
doubt not the thought that he had done what he could ta 
arrest a war attended with such terrible and useless sacri- 
fice, was one of the sweetest reflections of his whole life. 

The position assumed by President Davis, that he had no 
authority to make a treaty upon the conditions proposed — 
since that would amount to an abrogation of the government 
which he had sworn to support — had, no doubt, a great influ-- 
ence on his mind ; but it is clear that it did not express the 
whole case. If the oath was binding upon him to that ex- 
tent, it was binding upon Congress to the same extent. Such 
a construction abnegates one of the highest functions of gov- 
ernment, the power of peace and war. It nullifies the 
treaty making power '•'quoad hoc,'' and transfers it from the 
council chamber to the field, from the Cabinet to the Gen- 
eral. And if that oath bound him to hold out to the end, 
unless the Confederate States prevailed, it equally bound 
General Lee to continue the struggle as long as a company 
could be brought into the field. A surrender by Gen. Lee 
was tatamount in all its most dr-eaded eftects, to such a 
treaty by the President, with none of the beneficent results 
which might have been secured b}' treaty. There is no 
principle upon which a General is justified in surrendering 
an army to avoid destruction, which does not apply with 
tenfold force to the surrender of a State to avoid destruc- 
tion. Tne State embraces, beside the army, all the helpless 
population of both sexes, and by so much the case is the 

The difliculties connected with the abrogation of the 


Oovernment, especially by those appointed to administer it^ 
are undeniably great; but tbey cannot be allowed to be con- 
clusive against the interests of human life ; such a theory- 
canuot be maintained. If the condition of things be such 
that the government or the people must be sacriiiced, there- 
cannot be a doubt where the sacrifice must fall. All wouldi 
say that the government w^as made for the people, not the- 
people for the government. 

The strongest reason for the action of Mr. Davis, at that 
time, action so long an impenetrable mystery, is now made- 
clear from the most authoritative source. In a recent num- 
ber of the "London Fortnightly Eeview," is a review, by 
the first English military critic of the age, of the works of 
General Johnson and General Sherman, giving the history 
of their several campaigns. Speaking from information de- 
rived from one '-who w^as daily in the Council chamber at 
Richmond," he says that during the latter stages of the war, 
Mr. Davis and his Cabinet acted under "thoroughly false 
views of the military situation." 'The Richmond Cabinet 
was perfectly blinded," says he, "by certain successes of the- 
earlier part of the war ; and its military adviser lacked the 
insight or the honesty tt) explain to it, that the dispropor- 
tion of fighting power which had certainly at one time ex- 
isted, whatever its cause, had passed away." The source 
from which this information was derived could be no other 
than a member of the Confederate Cabinet, for none other 
could have had "daily access to the Council Chamber at 
Richmond." This information, then, is to be regarded as. 
entirely authentic . and it is fully sustained by the spirit and 
tenor of the speeches made by ^Ir. Davis and Mr. Benjamiu. 
at the time referred to above, and those made shortly after- 
ward. The w^riter continues, "it" — the Cabinet at Rich- 
mond — "could not realize the facts of the case." With refer- 
ence to General Sherman and his army, he sa^s : "Sherman's 
reputation, and the immense strength of the army he com- 
manded, were well known at that era even on this side of 


the Atlantic, and ought not to have l)een ignored at Rich- 
mond." Mr. Graham did realize the tacts of the case. His 
letters published in "The last ninety days of the War," show 
with what clear vision he swept the horizon. Ilence his 
jiiovcruent looking to negotiations, '• to ascertain lor the 
^States what terms would be ^delded, provided they con- 
isented to re-ado})t the Constitution of the United States." 

Congress adjourned about the 16th day of March. Im- 
pressed with the imminence of the emergency, Mr, Graham 
■•stopped but one day at home — that day being the Sahbath — 
.ijind on Monday proceeded to Raleigh to confer with the 
Governor. The conference was long and earnest. Mr. Gra- 
ham laid before the Governor the views of the President, 
-the state of the armies, and earnestly recommended that the 
Legislature should be convened. He sustained his advice 
;by the opinion of General Leo, and that of many good 
..and able men with whom he had been associated. He ended 
by telling him that Richmond would fall in less than thirty 
<hi3's, and that event would be followed probably by a rout 
>or dispersion of General Lee's army for want ot food, if for 
310 other cause. The Governor was surprised l)y liis state- 
jmcni of facts, and incredulous in some degree as to his con- 
«elusions. He agreed to consider rhe subject, and convened 
the Council on that day week. Hearing nothing of their 
.action, in a few days M]\ Graham visited Raleigh again. 
The Governor informed him that on the dtiy appointed, a 
bare quorum of the Council attended, and being ecpially 
^divided, he had not summoned the Legislature. He said 
that Mr. Gilmer, witli whom Mr. Graham had advised him 
to consult, had suggested to him to solicit an interview with 
^General Sherman on the subject of peace. Mr. Graham 
a-emarked that if such an interview were held, Mr. Davis 
■should be apprised of it. To this the Governor at once 
^assented. Mr. Graham suggested further that if that course 
'vvere taken, he (the Governor) should be in a condition to 
.act independently of the President, and convene the Legis- 


lature. To this proposition the Governor manifested reluc- 
tance ; bnt finally agreed to call the Council of State again. 
But while negotiation halted, the march of General Sher- 
man's army decided events. In a few days no resource was 
lett but an unconditional surrender. With the part borne 
by Mr. Graham at that trying time, a gifted authoress of 
North Carolina has made the public already familiar in the 
<japtivating pages. of her work : "The Last Ninety Days of 
the War." 

There is no part of Mr. Graham's life in which the calm 
wisdom, for which he was so distinguished, shone more con- 
spicuously than in the closing months of the civil war. 
AVhen independence Avas demonstrated to be hopeless, he 
^sought peace ; but even then, only in channels admitted to 
be in accordance with the great principles of our Govern- 

In his opinion, that peace ought to be sought by the State 
.after the failure of the conference at Hampton Roads ; he 
was sustained by our entire delegation in Congress, and a 
large proportion of the leading citizens of the State. Yet 
so anxious was he not only to avoid any appearance of con- 
ilict among the Confederate States, but to conform to all 
that the most punctilious deference for the Confederate Gov- 
•ernment might require, that he did not move in the matter 
amtil after a conference with the President, and then only in 
the track pointed out l)y him. The President disclaimed all 
|iower of making a treaty, which would abrogate the Gov- 
*ernment, and declared that the "States alone, each acting in 
its sovereign capacity, could make such a treaty.'' In the 
line of action here indicated the State could not be })Ut in a 
iiilsc position; nay, her honor would be put beyond all cavil. 
It was known that we had no power to arrest General Slier- 
man's march. General Johnson confronted him, and all felt 
"Convinced that whatever his great military genius could ac- 
complish would be done. But it was also known that his 
gallant army was outimmbered six to one. A surrender in 


a few (lays would be iiievitiible. Burning capitols, desola- 
ted homes, famine and destruction of life, followed Sher- 
man's march. "Was it not worth the effort to put a stop to- 
f-nch frightful calamities? What Mr. Graham urged was 
that the people might be allowed to determine their fate for 
themselves. Such a course was in strict conformity to the- 
fundamental principles of our Government. A convention 
of seven Governors, at Altoona, had precipitated the war 
when peace counsels seemed so be in the ascendant. Was:, 
not Mr. Graham justified in the opinion that executive pow- 
ers which had been so destructive!}' exerted in the beginnings 
might be beneficently exerted in the end ? 

In an address delivered by Governor Vance before the 
Southern Historical Society, at White Sulphur Springs, 
West Virginia, August 18th, j875, occurs the following: 
statement : 

"Soon after the failure of tlie Fortress ]\Ionroe or Hamp- 
ton Hoads conference, I was visited by Governor Graham 
(whose death we so recently deplore) who was then a Sena- 
tor of the Confederate States. After giving all the particu- 
lars of that conference which had not appeared in the pa- 
pers, and the prevailing impressions of Congressional circles 
about Richmond, etc., he informed me that a number of 
leading gentlemen there, despairing of obtaining peace 
through Mr. Davis, and believing the end inevitable and 
not distant, liad requested him to visit me and urge me, as 
Governor of JSTorth Carolina, to take steps for making sepa- 
rate peace with Mr. Lincoln, and thus inaugurate the con- 
clusion ; that he agreed to lay their request before me with- 
out promising to add his personal advice thereto. I asked 
who those gentlemen were, and, with some reluctance, he 
gave me their names, chiefiy Senators and Representative* 
in the Confederate Congress. I asked why these gentlemen 
did not begin negotiations in their own States Avith the 
enemy, and if the}^ would come out in the papers with this 
lequest to me. lie said they could not take the initiative, 


they were so surrounded at home, and so trammeled by pledg- 
es, &c., as to render it impossible ! I declined the proposi- 
tion of course." 

It is with reluctance that I advert to this statement. Had 
it been given to the press with a sponsor less entitled to con- 
sideration, I should have been disposed to let it float with 
the tide. But it presents itself under imposing circum- 
stances ; it proceeds from one who, at the time referred to, 
was at the head of the government in IsTorth Carolina ; it is 
contained in an address made before a society whose object 
it is to preserve the memorials of that time. The statement 
thus passes into history. It will not be waived, ft per- 
emptorily challenges attention. 

The address had for its object the vindication o!' North, 
Carolina, and the vindication was c(nn})lero upon i he facts 
and hgures presented. It was made in reply not to any" 
recent strictures upon the State, but to strictui-es niade dur- 
ing the war. Ten 3'ears had elai)sed from the end of the- 
war to the date of that addi'ess Jiut the statement was made^ 
not in tlie way of vindication, but in the way of re-crimina- 
tion, and Mr. Graham's name was used as the instrument- of 
re-crimination. jSTow it will be regretted by nil wIk) love- 
the State, and the fair fame of her statesmen, wliii-h forms- 
her highest glory, that such a i;se of his name was not made 
till the grave had closed upon him, and his voice was mute 

Had this statement been delayed to make avail of facts 
which came to light afterwards, the cause of the delay would 
be apparent; but every fact used in defence of the State was 
as available at any time during those ten [years as it was on 
the 18th of August when the address was delivered. The- 
effect of that statement was, in the judgment of a large Dor-- 
tion of our people, to put Mr. Graham and the Senators and. 
Representatives alluded to, in false relations to the Confed- 
erate Government. It excited a deep feeling in this State 
and called out acrimonious comments from tb.e Southerly. 


Press. Governor Yance perceived at once the light in which 
it^ would be regarded. His language is emphatic, "I de- 
clined the proposition of course." 

There are some reflections which arise, spontaneously, in 
the mind of every one who reads this statement, and who 
was acquainted with ]\lr. Graham. 

According to this statement, Mr. Graham came charged 
with a momentous proposition from parties whose names, at 
first, he did not disclose. It will he admitted by all that it 
Avould be hard to conceive a situation more at variance with 
the tenor of his life than that in which this statement plac(-;s 
him. lie was a man of a lofty, fearless and commanding 
spirit. In action he was one of the most indejiendent of 
men. He opposed secession when fealty to the ^South was 
measured by zeal for that doctrine. He opposed the extreme 
measures of the Confederate Government when the temper 
of the times scarcely" tolerated an}' dissent. He opposed the 
Johnson Constitution ; he opposed the Reconstruction Con- 
stitution. In the latter instances he brought himself into 
conflict with tho.-e who wielded the powers of the Federal 
Government, and that too when he was already under the 
ban. of that Government. He had a just sense of his own 
dignity. lie had a just sense of his own weight in the 
country. His conduct liad always been so high and clear 
that never, during a life of three score years and ten, was he 
once called upon for an explanation. Kot a single lineament 
of his character do we recognize in the bearer of such a 
proposition from nameless men. 

We are told that, though the bearer of the proposition, he 
refused or declined to express any opinion in regard to it. 
This reticence is unaccountable. On public aftViirs Mr. Gi'a- 
ham had no concealments. His opinions as a ])rivate man 
could be known by all who sought them ; as a public man he 
never hesitated to proclaim them. There was no featui'e of 
Lis character which impressed his opponents more than this. 


A distinguished Republican," who knew him well, gave it 
as one of his most characteristic traits, that "he had emin- 
ently the courage of his opinions." Would such a one with- 
hold his opinions when the fate of his country hung in the 
balance, and when the high position which he occupied 
made it his duty to express them ? 

The alleged proposition inv^olved the destruction of the 
Confederate Government, and the transfer of the allegiance 
of its citizens to the Federal Government. Could he have 
so entirely lost that political sagacity, which made him a 
light and a guide to the generation in which he lived, as to 
suppose such a proposition would be listened to, coming 
from nameless men ? If such a course had been necessary 
to escape ruin, otherwise inevitable, it could only have been 
taken by the concerted action of those wlio were strongest 
in the confidence of the countrj'. That, no one knew better 
than he. Further, he knew that to secure for the proposi- 
tion a favorable hearing, it must appear that it was a move- 
ment which enlisted able and patriotic men. To suppress- 
their names, then, argues a degree of simplicity which would 
be unaccountable in the weakest of men, and seems impos- 
sible in one of the strongest. 

Mr. Graham has left on record, m a letter to Governor 
Swain, a full and minute account of this interview. That 
it Avas the same is proven by reference to the time. Gover- 
nor ^'ance says it was after the Hampton Roads Conference. 
Mr. Graham, as we have seen, reached home', from Richmond 
on the 19th of March, and went to Raleigh on Monday the 
20th. It is proved to be the same by the identity of topics 
discussed or referred to, as far as those topics are alluded to 
by Governor Vance. It is proven by the identity of words, 
one of them used, not in its plain and obvious, but in its 
remote and secondary sense. 

The letter and the circumstances under which it was 
written thus become of interest. On Saturday, the 8th of 

Hon S. F. PhilVps. 


J^pril, Governor Swain wrote to ]\Ir. Graham urging that 
]ie would go with him to Raleigh to confer with Governor 
Vance upon the state of public aftairs. lie pictured in strong 
colors the imminence of the dangers which beset the country. 
He told him that the State looked to none of its citizens for 
counsel and guidance as it did to him. lie told him the 
Governor would give as favorable consideration to his sug- 
gestions as he would yield to any citizen or functionary in 
the Confederacy. To this letter Mr. Graham replied on the 
same day at considerable length. lie wrote that he left 
liichraond thoroughly convinced : 1st. That independence 
ibr the Southern Confederacy was perfectly hopeless. 2d_ 
That through the administration of Mr. Davis we could ex- 
pect no peace. 3rd. That the State Government should 
make a movement in behalf of peace. He then proceeded to 
give in detail what had occurred on the occasion of his visit 
to Governor Yance. This account was written for the pur- 
pose of putting Governor Swain in posselssion of what had 
p)assed, no doubt with the expectation that it would be used 
by him in the interview with Governor Vance, and also to 
show how frankly he had expressed his views upon the state 
of the country. Gn the Monday following, Governor Swain 
went to Raleigh, and the conference between him and Gov. 
Vance was long and full. It may, I think, be assumed as 
certain, from tlie importance attached by Governor Swain to 
the opinions of jSIr. Graham, and from the weight which he 
thought those opinions would have with Governor Vance, 
that the contents of that letter were made known to Gover- 
nor Vance, and formed the basis of their conference. An 
account of the interview w^as furnished by Governor Swain 
to the author of " The Last jSTinety Hays," together with the 
letter in cpiestion. The inference is clear that Governor 
Swain understood that letter as containing a true narrative 
of what passed between Mr. Graham and Governor Vance. 
Further, the " Ninety Hays" has been for 3'ears before the 
world, and the correctness of that narrative has been un- 


•challenged. That narrative has thus the direct sanction of 
■Governor Swain, and by acquiescence during Mr. Graham's 
life, it has the sanction also of Governor A^ance. 

Now compare the narrative and note the diiterence. In 
Governor Vance's version, JVIr. Graham comes to him from 
third persons, whose names were not disclosed ; in Mr. Gra- 
ham's, he went unprompted by anybody ; unprompted save 
by his own high sense of duty. In Governor Vance's ver- 
ision, he came the bearer of a proposition from others ; in 
Mr. Graham's, he went to submit his own vicAvs. In Gover- 
nor A'ance's version, the proposition is to " make separate 
terms with Mr. Lincoln;" in Mr. Graham's, to call the 
Assembly. In Governor Vance's version, he withholds his 
advice ; in Mr. Graham's, he went for no other purpose than 
to give his advice, and did give it at length. The only 
reference in Mr. Graham's narrative to any third person is 
^when he reinforces his advice by the opinion of General Lee, 
:and by the opinions of those considered b}' him as the wisest 
«.nd best men with whom he had conversed. It is absolutely 
■certain that what is alleged in the "statement" as having 
occurred, did not happen before the 20th of March, because, 
i)etween the Hampton Roads Conference and that tinie, Mr. 
Graham had not been in Ealeigh. It is morally certain that 
it did not occur after that time ; because if Governor Vance 
rejected Mr. Graliam's advice to call the Legislature, and 
thus allow the representatives of the people to decide their 
•own fate, the latter would not have submitted a proposition 
that the Governor should, at the instance of nameless men, 
•decide their fate for them. Whence, then, the irreconcilable 
•discrepancy between the two versions ? The explanation 
lies in the fact that Mr. Graham's narrative was penned a 
short time after the interview occurred, when the facts were 
fresh in his mind ; while Governor A^ance's was not written 
until over ten years had passed away. 

In a note appended to the address, in the November num- 
l)er of Oiir Living and Our Dead, Governor Vance says : 


" Since the synopsis of this was published I have received n 
letter from an esteemed friend in Hillsboro, who says he had 
a conversation with Governor Graham on the same subject^ 
and that his recollection is that the proposition made to me 
was, that I should take steps to withdraw the JSTorth Caro_ 
Una troops from General Lee's army, which would force himi 
to surrender and thus end the war. It may be that my 
friend's recollection is correct." 

The inference of the reader of this note would be that the- 
letter from Hillsboro sustains Governor Vance's recollection 
in every particular, except the manner in which peace was 
to be brought about ; the writer's understanding being, that 
it was to be accomplished by withdrawing our troops. I 
subjoin the clause of the letter of which the " note" is in- 
tended as a summary. The author of the letter, in writings 
to Governor Vance about the statement in the White Sul- 
phur Springs address, says : " You state that the purpose of 
persons whose message Governor Graham delivered to yoo 
was to make ' separate terms with Mr. Lincoln, and thus, 
inaugurate the conclusion.' This announcement surprised 
me, because Governor Graham stated the same thing to me,, 
and I understood the purpose to be that j^orth Carolina 
should withdraw her troops from General Lee's army, and 
thus compel a surrender and end the war." 

The letter undoubtedly bears the construction put upon it 
])y Governor Vance ; nay, I think it is the most obvious 
construction ; yet nothing was further from the intention of 
the writer. The single point intended to be made by the 
writer, as is shown in a subsequent letter, was as to " sepa- 
rate terms." It was to the alleged projiosition looking toe 
"separate terms" that he alluded when he wrote, this an- 
nouncement " surprised me." Mr. Graham's jDosition in 
regard to peace was known to him, and it was to Mr. Gra- 
ham's purpose to inaugurate a movement in favor of peace 
that he alluded when he Avrote, " Mr. Graham stated the 
same thino; to me" The writer of the letter alluded to iii 


the " note" had no thought either of confirming or contro- 
verting Governor Vance's recollection of what transpired at 
the interview between him and Mr. Graham, because he- 
had not heard from Mr. Graham that he had any i)iterview 
M'ith Governor Vance. In the subsequent letter, just refer- 
red to, he says, "Mr. Graham made no mention" — i. e. in the- 
conversation alUided to — "of his having been charged with 
any message or communication to Governor Vance about 
ending the war ; indeed, he made no mention of his having 
had any interview with Governor Vance on the subject." 

It will be observed that the writer of the letter to Gover- 
nor Vance, in speaking of withdrawing our troops, says 
nothing of any communication made by Mr. Graham of such 
a purpose ; his language is ''I understood the purpose to be ;"" 
it was a conclusion of the writer, deduced from what he 
heard around him. 

It is very apparent that this letter was thrown oS in great 
haste, and without a moment's thought as to the construc- 
tion which might be put upon it. Hence the erroneous im- 
plication conveyed, and hence the erroneous construction ot 
Governor Vance. 

That letter changed the opinion of Governor Vance, and 
left him in doubt as to what was the proposition submitted.. 
"It may be," says he, "that my friend's recollection is cor- 
rect." Upon this point, no doubt, I think, can exist, if we 
refer to Mr. Graham's recorded opinions. In his letters, 
given at length in the "Xinety Days," he lays open all his 
thouo-hts without reserve to his life-long friend, Governor 
Swain. In them is to be found no hint of any other meas- 
ure than that of calling the Legislature and allowing the- 
people to consult together for their common safety in this- 
unparalleled strait. These letters show further that he nev- 
er contemplated separate action by the State of North Caro- 

After the Hampton Roads Conference he had no longer 
any hope of a peaceful solution through the action of Pi-esi- 


■dent Davis ; from thenceforth he turned his thoughts to the 
accomplishment of the same end through the action of the 
States. The subject is often recurred to, but not an intima- 
tion can be found of any plan, except that of the States act- 
ing in conjunction. Very soon united action on the part of 
all became an impossibility ; conquering armies had dismem- 
bered the Confederacy — had left indeed but two States that ' 
could act in concert. But his plan still embraced these two. 
March ^th, he writes as follows to Governor Swain : ''I 
went to Raleigh to have an interview with the Governor on 
the subject matter referred to in your letter. The result 
was a convocation of the Council of State to assemble to- 
morrow. The Legislature of Virginia has taken a recess 
until the 29th instant, and I think it very important that 
that of North Carolina should -be in session as early as pos- 
sible. The war is now nearly reduced to a contest between 
these two States and the United States 1" In his letter of 
the 8th of April, which contains, as I think has been shown, 
the true account of the interview between Mr. Graham and 
Governor Vance, Mr. Graham says: "I told him I should 
attend the session of the General Assembly, and, if desired, 
would address them in secret session ; that I had confiden- 
tial conversations with a committee of the Virginia Legis- 
lature, which had taken a recess for ten days, and that it 
was important to act in concert with that body." 

The surrender left the State under the control of the Fed- 
eral Generals and under the military law. According to 
the theory of the Administration, all civil government had 
ceased ; all the offices were vacant. The government, for a 
time, was such as a conquering army administers in a sub- 
jugated country. At length to inaugurate a civil govern- 
ment, the precedent for the admission of territories was par- 
tially adopted. A provisional Governor was appointed with 
power to call a convention. In execution of his powers the 
Governor appointed to the vacant offices and issued a call 
for a convention. Mr. Graham was nominated for the con- 


vention ; but it being announced b}' the executive, that per- 
sons unpardoned would not be allowed to take tlieir seats, 
lie withdrew from the canvass. 

A Constitution — the old Constitution wdth some altera- 
tions — was adopted. Mr. Graham opposed its ratification. 
From his action at this time m.any of his best friends dis- 
sented. Thej admitted with him that a convention called, 
not by the people, but by a power ah e.rtr«and under limita- 
tions of suffrage unknown to the constitution, was an ano- 
maly in American institutions. But certain changes were 
regarded as inevitable after the war, and if the Administra- 
tion, then wielding supreme power over us, should rest sat- 
isfied with the changes thus made, it was conceived by them 
to be the wiser course to raise no question as to the manner 
in which the convention was called. But in Mr. Graham's 
Adew many of the ablest men in the State concurred, and 
the constitution was defeated. Certainly it seems more in 
accordance with the spirit of a great patriot to make con- 
tinual claim, even if ineflectual, in behalf of the principles 
■of government established by our fathers. Any mitigation 
which an abandonment of those principles might have ob- 
tained would have been but temporary ; the principles them- 
selves were for all time. 

The Eeconstruction measures were now passed. The for- 
mer government was swept away. The "\^hole power over 
the question of suflVage, that question which lies at the 
foundation of all representative government, and which un^- 
der the old Constitution belonged to the States, save that 
Congress might pass unform naturalization laws, was as- 
sumed and exercised by Congress. Suftrage was adjusted 
upon a new basis ; all the black race was enfranchised, and 
a large portion of the white race was disfranchised. Under 
this adjustment, a new convention was called, and a new 
constitution adopted, the constitution under which we now 

These measures, so extreme in their nature, were regard- 


ed while they were yet in progress by a large part of our 
people with a feeling little short of consternation. The Gov- 
erment seemed wholly changed; the Constitution irrevocably 
wrenched, if not destroyed. A profound apathy fell upon 
the minds of the people. A vast number ceased to take any 
cognizance of public aifairs. They seemed to regard them, 
as removed forever beyond their control. In this state of 
things a convention of the conservative party of ]Srorth Caro- 
lina was called. It met on the 5th of February, 1868, in 
Tacker Hall, in the city of Raleigh, and was presided over 
by Mr. Graham. 

Upon taking the chair he spoke at length upon the state 
of the country. The scope of that speech is summed up in 
the conclusion which I give in his own words : "I hcive de- 
tained you thus long, but to be brief and state our case as it is, 
against the thousand misrepresentations with which the ear 
of authority is vexed, for the consideration of yourselves, of 
our own people, of our fellow-citizens of the ITorth and West, 
and the calm judgment of the world at large." It was thus 
a broad appeal to the judgment of mankind, embracing in 
its ample verge all the issues evolved by our situation ; and 
I think whatever may be the party affinities of men at this 
day all Avill allow that it was worthy such an audience. He 
placed himself at the ver}^ start upon the highest ground by 
showing that the struggle in which the party there repre- 
sented was then engaged, was not the oifspring of resent- 
ment or contumacy, but only for the preservation of the 
rights of American citizens. A few strong sentences suffice 
to paint the condition of the Southern country at the close 
of the war. He refers in eloquent terms to the civil vm^Vy 
and to the profound submission then, three years after its 
termination, everywhere manifested to the authority of the 
United States. He refers to the Reconstruction measures 
and sharply presents the spirit of those measures. He con- 
trasts the spirit of English statesmanship at the era of the 
Restoration, an era analagous to our own after the conclu- 


sion of tlie war. He showed that the evils under which we 
were laboring were the result of political enthusiasm. He 
dwelt upon the truth impressed by the great historian of the 
Restoration, the feebleness of reason to oppose this passion, 
whether in religion or politics, and that there is but one 
safeguard against its fatal consequences, "in religion, never 
to lose sight of moralitv ; in political speculation, never to 
depart from the forms and maxims of the Constitution." By 
the forms aiul maxims of the American Constitution, and 
by the precedents of our own history at its best eras, and 
under our I'residents the most renowned in peace and war, 
he proceeded to test the Reconstruction measures. The 
framers of those measures admitted that they were "outside 
of the Constitution." Mr. Graham demonstrated with 
boundless wealth of learning, and with resistless logic, tliat 
they were in conliict with the Constitution and with the 
spirit of American liberty. Theje are many who differed in 
opinion from him upon the topics jtroper to be discussed, 
and the course of action recommended by him on that occa- 
sion ; but, I think, even they would allow tliat, as he spoke 
that da}^ on the great doctrines of civil liberty, so Somers 
and Camden would have s[)oken; and that the constitutional 
<loctrines which he then laid down wonld have received the 
sanction of Madison and of Marshall. I have read that 
speech recently and with care, I was impressed anew with 
its wide range, and its deep and mature learning ; with the 
skill with which the topics are arranged and discussed ; with 
the admirable tem]>er which he preserves on the most excit- 
ing sul)iects ; with his familiarit}- with the writings of politi- 
cal sages, whose weighty apothegms are scattered through 
it; with the high tinisli of certain passages ; but above all 
with the dauntless spirit with wliich he maintains what, in 
his judgment, are the true principles of our Government, 

The effect of this speech cannot be estimated. It aroused 
the people from their despondency ; it animated them to new 
efforts ; it went further, it infused into them the spirit with 


which the speech itself was instinct. From that (hiy the 
Conservative-Democratic party dates its existence in this 
State as a regularly organized party ; witlnu a short time 
thereafter it gained possession of the Legislature and has 
held it to the present time. 

The Convention of 1865 had directed that the Legislature 
sliould be convened. An election was accordingly hel(,l and 
the Legislature met in the winter of that year. Mr. Gra- 
ham was unaninioush' elected for tlie county of Orange, but, 
being unpardoned he did not offer to take his seat. It was 
the universal desire of the people that he should represent 
the State in the Senate of the United States, when restored 
to its old relations. It was felt that ISTorth Carolina had no- 
one more competent to vindicate her action or represent her 
interests. It was felt that she had no one who, by his 
balanced judgment, his temperance of feeling, his urbane 
bearino-, would do more to mit*igate the asperities which had 
been provoked by civil strife. He was elected by a large 
majority. Upon his election he repaired to AVashington and 
presented his credentials. They were laid upon the table. 
lie presented to the Senate a manly and respectful memoi-ial; 
but he was never permitted to take his seat. The spectacle 
presented by the exclusion from public aftairs of a man of 
his antecedents, while so man}^ who had an active agency in 
bringing on civil sti-ife had been promoted to high station^ 
arrested attention everywhere. Many of the most eminent 
men in the Northern States nsed their best elibrts for the 
removal of his disabilities, without effect. Political perse- 
cution, set on foot by parties in his own State, pursued him 
until it was placed beyond all human probability that he 
should ever enjoy the honors for which the State had des- 
tined him. When that had become a certainty, to-wit, in 
1873, his disabilities were removed. AVhat reflections arise, 
as we recur to this passage of his lift? 1 Mr. Graham had 
clung to the Constitution until the rising tide of secession 
had tlowcd around and completely insulated his State ; to- 


this ancient ark of our fathers ho again ckmg when after the 
war the waves of political enthusiasm inundated the coun- 
try and the Constitution, Yet he was left stranded, while 
many of those who had fanned the tempests of both found 
secure anchorage. But we look bej'ond to-day. The things 
seen are temporal in more senses than one. The impartial 
tribunal of posterity rise up before us. Then, when the 
actors of to-day are weighed in even scales; when the influ- 
ence of passion and prejudice is unknown, then will the con- 
sistent devotion to principle, by which his conduct was 
always actuated, receive its due meed of admiration and 

The State of i^orth Carolina was, in 1S70, the scene of 
events without parallel in American history. The recon- 
structed government had then been in existence for two 
3^ears ; and though it introduced many changes in the organ- 
ic law^, changes repugnant to the great body of the people,^ 
it was now in rpiiet operation. Its authority was ever}-- 
where acknowledged ; submission to it was universal. In 
the counties of Alamance and Caswell acts of lawlessness,, 
startling and exceptional, had occurred ; but they nowhere 
took the form of resistance to law ; they rather indicated 
the temper of a people driven to phrenzy by actual or an- 
ticipated outrage. These acts Avere deeply deplored by all 
thoughtful men, who earnestly exerted themselves 1© put an 
end to them. At length, by their efforts, seconded by the 
presence of a company of United States troops in each of 
those counties, order and quiet were restored. It was now 
that the Governor, under authority of an act passed at the 
previous Legislature, declared by proclamation these coun- 
ties in a state of insurrection. He then proceeded to levy 
troops, which, when raised, were marched into those coun- 
ties. Here arrests were made of leading citizens, without 
charge and Avithout process. When arrested most of them 
were held in strict confinement ; some were thrown into close 
prison. In some instances torture was resorted to, to extort 

(04 J 

accusation against themselves. To crown all, measures were 
beino; taken to oro-anize courts-martial for the trial of the 
<iitizens thus arrested. To put a stop to proceedings so un- 
exampled recourse was had to that great birthright of Eng- 
lish speaking people, the writ of habeas corpus. Applica- 
tion for the writ was made to the Chief Justice, who prompt- 
ly ordered the writ to be issued ; but owing to the action of 
the Governor the benefit of the writ could not be obtained. 
A number of motions was submitted by the counsel for the 
prisoners, but each in turn proved nugatory. Finally a mo- 
tion was made for a precept to be directed to the Sheriff — 
the precept to be executed by the power of the county. 
This the Chief Justice declined to grant, stating that in the 
then condition of things such a proceeding "^^'ould plunge 
the country into civil war." 

Hopeless now of obtaining any relief from the courts of 
the State recourse was had to the coarts of the United 
States. A petition for redress was made to His Honor 
Judge Brooks of the District Court. The question of juris- 
diction was argued by Mr. Graham, and other eminent coun- 
sel. The Judge, at length, ordered the writ to be issued. 
The prisoners were brought up, and after the hearing were 
-discharged. It may be safely said that nothing has occurred 
since the war which did more to rekindle tlie affections of 
the people of North Carolina toward the Government of 
their fathers than the action of Judge Brooks in these cases. 

The events thus brieiiy referred to occin"red in the midst 
<>f a profound peace. The Courts held their regular sessions 
at the appointed times in the counties of Alamance and 
Caswell ; and the processes of law ran unobstructed to every 
part of those counties. Political proscription, tliere was 
none. The party of w^hicli the Governor was the head held 
undisputed sway in those counties. The negroes voted at 
pleasure for the object of their choice. The public mind 
was profoundly moved by these proceedings. The sense of 
injury was deep ; yet there was no open resistance — -no tu- 

iiiultuary assemblages. The inborn reverenee'for law, wliicli 
has prevailed in this State sinee the Revolution — iince the 
adoption of popular institutions — everywhere "asserted itself. 
The people waited to see what course two or three"]eminent 
citizens, who had been honored and trusted by them, would 
advise at this crisis. To Mr. Graham first and fn-eniost 
they instinctively turned. He advised a resort to none but 
constitutional remedies— first, an appeal to the people at the 
ballot-box; secondly, an arraignment of the Executive at the 
bar of tlie [)e()[»le. The siiccess of such an appeal he did not 
doubt. Ko statesman ever reposed greater confidence in the 
capacity and patriotism of the people. The result vindica- 
ted his judgment. The canvass of that summer turned upon 
the usurpations and high-handed proceedings of the (xover- 
nor. The election resulted in the return to the Legislature 
of a majority of two-thirds of the Conservative-Democratic 

The adoption of the second ste[> was more difiicult. A 
vague but deep-seated dread, growing out of a recent expe- 
rience of the power of the Fedoi-al (Jovernmeut, which had 
not returned to the old constitutional (.-hannels from which 
it had been diverted by the war, [)er varied the State. The 
Reconstruction Government, which owed its origin to the 
Federal Congress, had been recently estal)lished here. The 
Republican party had established that government, and that 
party swayed the powers of the Federal Government in 
every department. Any action towai'd removing the high- 
est official in the State might be construed by that p.irtv 
into a menace against the Reconstruction Government, and 
lead to a speedy and decisive interposition l)y the Federal 
Government. Mv. Graham did not participate in these ap- 
prehensions. IFis views are best expressed in his own Avords: 
"I do not believe," he said, "the Congress of the United 
States will depart from that Constitution under Avhich we 
are now living in liarmony ; and that when the State of 
jSTortli Carolina renewed her constitutional relations to the 


Federal Government, she came back with all the rights and 
privileges of a sovereign State ; and that her State Senators 
and Representatives, when charged with duties by the peo- 
ple, are to perform their functions under the same responsi- 
bilities that belong to the Senators and Representatives of 
any State of the Union." These weighty views, in ^^'hich 
there was a general concurrence among the ablest and most 
trusted public men of the State, prevailed. On the 14th of 
December, 1870, a resolution was adopted by the House of 
Representatives of ISTorth Carolina, that the Governor of 
ISTorth Carolina be impeached of high crimes and misde- 
meanors. On the 23d of December the Court of Impeach- 
ment was duly organized, and sat forty days. The judg- 
ment of the court was that the Governor be deposed from 
oflice, and forever disqualified from holding any office of 
profi.t or trust in this State. 

Mr. Graham was the first counsel named among the emi- 
nent eentlemen of the Bar selected to assist the managers 
appointed by the House ; and he bore a principal part in the 
manao-ement of the trial, and in the discussions of the vari- 
ous qestions of evidence which arose in in its progress. It 
was assigned to him to make the first of the speeches in the 
final argument. In his exordium he used the language 
quoted above — language which embodied the advice which 
he had given to the members of the Assembly by -whom he 
had been consulted when the impeachment resolution was 
pending. The passage which follows, addressed to the Sena- 
tors sitting in their judicial capacity, evidently lays down 
the rule by which his own public life had been guided : 

"For my own part, I have to say to every public man, in 
re'»"ard to his public life, what the great poet represents the 
ano-el as having said to our first ancestor : 

'Nor love thy life, nor hate ; but what thou livest 
Live well, hiw long or short perm:t to heaven?' " 

The feelings wifh which he approached this trial were in 


part those of an elder generation. He was born and brought 
aip among a people conspicuous for their gallantry and sacri- 
fices in the Revolutionary War. The section in which they 
lived was singled out by the British historians as that wdiich 
was the most active and inveterate in its hostility. His own 
iincestry in that section had given the best years of their 
life— had offered their means without limit — had shed their 
Mood on many fields for the assertion of the great principles 
<of liherty. The establishment of a free government was to 
Mm the dearly bought acquisition of his patriotic sires, to 
be transmitted to children's children. The great principles 
«of liberty embodied in the Bill of Rights and in the Consti- 
tution were a part of his personal inheritance. Any usur- 
pation of power by the government, an}^ encroachment upon 
the rights of the people, he regarded as an invasion of his 
own birth-right — as a personal wrong and grievance. 

All such usurpations and encroachments he brought to a 
.-standard, just, if severe. Political science had been one of 
the favorite studies of his life. In the history of govern- 
ment of everj' kind he w^as well versed. He regarded a well 
401'dered State as the highest achievement of man. lie knew 
that two thousand years ago man had carried the arts and 
many branches of science to the highest pitch of perfection. 
He knew that no free government could boast an existence 
<of more than two hundred years. As well regulated liberty 
was the latest gift of time, so its value was above all others 
to be prized. It was that which gave value to everj'thino- 
^Ise ; since upon that the value of everything else depends. 
A blow in this direction, involving all that men prize and 
4cherish, was to be redressed by the heaviest and most last- 
ing of civil penalties. 

The speech of Mr. Graham in this trial was one of verv 
^reat ability. With the feelings to which I have referred, 
it might have been anticipated that he would occasionally 
launch out into denunciation and invective against one Avho 
liad trodden under foot the Constitution and laws, and defied 


the Chief Justice of the IState. But amidst the intensity of 
liis feelings his wonted self-command did not for a moment 
desert him. It was a trial of one who had been charged 
with the grossest violations of the highest of human rights ^ 
and it was plainly his purpose that no sentence, phrase or 
word of his should atford ground for the assertion that 
political animosity or prejudice had aught to do with the- 
judgment which he believed would be pronounced by the high 
court before which the Executive was arraigned. That judg- 
ment should be the irresistible dictate of reason, one iir 
which the feelings should have no share. This occasion ad- 
mits of no extended analj^sis of that speech ; but I cannot 
refrain from saying that, for clear and masterly statement 
of the several charges embraced in the articles of impeach-- 
ment ; for skillful analysis of the testimony and of the spe- 
cious pretences urged in defence, which, combined with iv 
dextrous array of facts and authorities, seemed to promise- 
immunity to the accused ; for the force and ])Ower with 
which all these were sifted, exposed and refuted ; above alt 
for the constitutional and common law learning, so apposite.. 
so conclusive, poured forth in the course of that speech, it 
deserves a high place among the best efforts of that kind< 
So completely was every point of law and fact covered by 
Mr. Graham that the eminent counsel who concluded oiv 
behalf of the managers conlioed himself to a re-statement of* 
the positions taken by him, and to such further discussion 
as was rendered necessary in reply. That speech will not 
fail to be studied whenever the great principles of govern- 
ment then involved shall come to be again defended here. 

As has been said, he was not permitted to take his seat iiu 
the Senate of the United States. But while he was debarred 
the enjoyment of those honors which his State would have 
conferred upon him, he was the recipient of other honors of 
the highest kind — honors which the highest in earthly 
estate might have envied. 

Mr. Peabody, whose great heart had been moved by the 


.misfortunes of tlie Soutlieni people, conceived the idea of 
.employing some portion of the princely fortune with which 
Providence had blessed him for the permanent benefit of 
that people. He was a ISTorthern man by birth, and as such 
had little sjmipathy with the ends which the South sought 
to accomplish by the war. But he knew that our fathers 
had fought for an idea in the war of independence, 
and that the South had fought for an idea in the civil war ; 
he could not recognize that as guilt in us, which was a 
source of pride and boast in our common ancestors. He con- 
templated no mere eleemosynary institution ; a people avIio 
had exhibited such constancy and valor as they had display- 
-ed during the war — though great suffering among them was 
inevitable — could not long want aid of that kind. But the 
interest of education at the South had not kept pace witli 
the same interest at the l^orth, where the people were homo- 
geneous, and where the efforts of all were directed to that 
end. The apprehension felt — ^too surelj' justified by the re- 
sult — was that when the people of the South came to esti- 
mate their losses by the war, the sense of these losses, 
coupled with their poverty, would lead to still further neg- 
lect of that most imi)ortant interest. It was to the interest 
x)f education, then, that the great philanthropist resolved to 
iiddress his beneficence. His plan required the interposition 
^f trustees, and it was necessary that they should be men 
.eminent for abilities and virtue and of national reputation. 
]\Ir. Graham, in whom all these requisites met, was one of 
the three or four trustees selected from the South. Through 
.{I common friend, the Hon. Mr. Winthrop, of Massachu- 
.setts, Mr. Graham was invited to meet Mr. Peabody and two 
-or three other gentlemen in Feb., 1807, in the city of Wash- 
ington. The result is well known. The beneficent plan was 
put operation, and now yields its valuable fruits to thous- 
iinds of the children of our land. Mr. Graham entered 
warmly into Mr. Peabody 's views. He attended with great 
regularity the meetings of the board of trustees, and partici- 


pated in all its counsels. lie seconded the resolutions which 
were adopted by the board upon the death of the great 
philanthropist, and then gave expression in fit and eloquent 
\^'ords to the sense of his loss here felt. The South has no 
means to commemorate her gratitude to this illustrious man 
in "statues, storied urns or animated busts," but his benefac- 
tions have sunk deep into the hearts of our people, and the 
honor with which his name is everywhere mentioned among 
us is, perhaps, the noblest monument to his fame. 

Sometime after he received another marked testimonial 
to the high esteem in which he was held by States as well 
as individuals. The boundary line between the States of 
Virginia and Maryland had long been undefined, and had 
produced embarrassment in the administration of the laws 
within the disputed limits, and, in some conflicting interests^ 
had nearly led to a collision between citizens of the twc 
States. It was determined to adjust the matter by arbitra- 
tion. The grand old Commonwealth of Virginia — grander 
in the virtues which she has displayed in her misfortunes, 
than those which she exhibited in her prosperity ; insomuch 
that we check the current of compassion for her misfortunes, 
in the thought that the world will be the better for the ex- 
ample which she has aftorded under adversity — confided her 
interests to Mr. Graham. Some meetings took place be- 
tween him and the arbitrator selected by the State of Mary- 
land ; but no award had been rendered at the date of his 
death, and the matter was left unadjusted. 

In the year 1875 — upon the 4tli of February — he presided 
over a meeting held in Charlotte to take steps for the prop- 
er celebration of the Centennial of the ]\Iecklenburg Decla- 
ration of Independence. Some writers of ability had seized 
upon that event, and in that spirit of historical skepticism 
so rife in our days, had undertaken, out of a few minor dis- 
crepancies, to deny the genuineness of the Declaration, or 
that any meeting was held on the 20th of Ma}^ Mr. Gra- 
ham had been often solicited to place that event upon it^ 


proper basis. lie had heard it often talked of at his father's 
iire-side ; he knew all the traditions connected with it ; he 
had known and talked ^vith many of the subscribers of that 
Declaration; he was well acquainted with public opinion re- 
garding it, in that section where the event occurred, down 
to the date of its publication in 1820, For a long time mo- 
tives of delicacy, growing out of his connection with some 
of the principal actors, restrained him. But, at that time, 
all the actors had passed away ; they could no longer be 
heard ; and a just regard for their fame urged his acquies- 
cence. He embodied his vindication in the form of an ad- 
dress which he delivered on this occasion. Iso fair synopsis 
of that address is possible ; it is a solid, compact argument 
which would be greatly impaired by any attempt at abridg- 
ment. Let it suffice to say that the evidence is arrayed in 
the spirit of the philosophical historian, and with the skill 
of a consummate lawyer. It will not put to silence the 
mere caviller ; no amount of evidence will on this or any 
other subject ; but the candid inquirer will rise from its pe- 
rusal with the conviction that few events in history rest 
upon a iirmer foundation than the Mecklenburg Declaration 
of Independence. 

Mr. Graham left behind many literary essays, but none 
which were prompted by mere desire for literary distinction. 
His efforts of this kind were all the result of passing events ; 
all the fruit of hours snatched from an absorbing profession. 
Yet if collected together they would form a considerable 
volume ; and if we consider their contents they give a high 
idea of the intellect which could find its relaxation in such 
labors. The dominant feeling of his life was loyalty to the 
State and her institutions ; hence the subjects usually selec- 
ted by him were drawn from her history. 

Among these was a lecture delivered at Greensboro, in 
1860. The citizens of that section of country, of which 
Greensboro is the centre, contemplated the erection of a 
monument to commemorate the services of General Greene 


111 the Rovolutionaiy struggle. This lecture was delivered 
in aid of the enterprise, and embraced a life of Greene and a 
liistory of Revolutionary events in this State. A copy 
was solicited for publication, but from some cause it was 
never published. It remains in manuscript, full and entire, 
as if prepared for the press. Here may be mentioned the 
two Memorial Addresses — the one upon the life and charac- 
ter of Hon. George E. Badger, and the other of Hon. Thomas 
Euflin. These fine addresses, which have received the 
commendations of many of the most competent judges, 
I^orth and South, are too fresh in the recollection of all to 
need any comment. 

This record would be most imperfect did it fail to bring 
into the most prominent relief the services of Mr. Graham 
in his office of trustee of the University. He regarded the 
University as the best ornament of the State, and no one of 
all its sons nursed it with a more devoted or wiser care. He 
attended all its commencements, and was most active in 
watching over all its interests. No one labored with more 
zeal for its restoration to the control of the true sons of the 
State. For many years he was a member of the Executive 
Committee, and at the time of his death he was the Chair- 
man of that Committee. It w^as to him, finallj^ that Gov- 
ernor Swain, in the last years of his successful administra- 
tion, looked for direction and support in all its trials and 

" It is not unusual for men of eminence," said Judge 
Story* "after having withdrawn from the Bar to find it dif- 
ficult, if not not impracticable, to resume their former rank 
in business." Mr. Graham experienced no such difficulty. 
Though often called from his profession to public station, at 
the first court at which he appeared after his term of office 
expired, he was retained in all important causes, and busi- 

"Miscellanenns Writings" Sketch of Hon. Samuel Dexter. 


ness flowed in upon him thenceforth as if he had never been 
absent. In common with all the people of the South, his 
resources had been somewhat impaired by the war, and 
when civil government AVas restored he resumed the prac- 
tice of his profession with more than his wonted ardor. lie 
returned to all the courts of his former circuit ; the business 
of which had greatly increased by the general settlement of 
all previous transactions which took place after the war. 
The business of the circuit and district courts — both of which 
he regularly attended — had been greatly enlarged by the 
new system of revenue laws and other changes introduced 
by the war, but, above all, by the bankrupt laws then re- 
cently enacted. These with appeals to the Supreme Court 
of the State, and appeals to the Supreme Court of the United 
States, increased his labors, protracted his absences from 
home, and left him few intervals for repose. It was felt by 
his friends that he was overtaxing his strength by these 
great exertions, but there was no abatement of his energies 
until about a year before his death. Symptoms then ap- 
peared which inspired deep apprehensions. . It seemed but 
too certain that disease had fixed itself upon some of the 
great organs of life. lie now gave up attendance upon 
courts, but still watched over the progress of his causes, and 
labored in the preparation of briefs — the causes themselves 
being argued by his son, Maj. Graham. lie was pre-emin- 
ently a worker and he continued to work to the end. At 
length the symptoms became more distressing, and he re- 
paired to Philadelphia to consult the eminent physicians of 
that city. The result confirmed the opinion before enter- 
tained that his malady was disease of the heart. Upon his 
return home he continued his labors in his ofiice. It was 
only under physical exertion that his malad}' gave him 
trouble ; when in repose he was capable of as great mental 
-eftbrts as ever. 

At this period of comparative inaction that fortunate des- 
tiny which presided over his life was constant to him still. 


The pain, which was incident to his malady, was only felt 
at intervals, and then was not severe. Apart from this, 
there was every possible compensation. Besides the depart- 
ment of professional labor still left to him, he had the 
boundless resources of literature, ancient and modern, which 
in the busiest periods of his life he had always cultivated 
and justly prized. Every day, moreover, brought to him in 
the visits of friends, or through the mails, in news papers 
and letters, some new testimonialof esteem and regard, pub- 
lic or private. But above any and all of these, he could now 
enjoy without interruption those pleasures, in which, amidst 
his most brilliant successes, he ever found his^chief happiness 
the pleasures of home and its sweet endearments. 

Mr. Graham had been nominated by acclamation by the 
people of Orange for the Constitutional Convention wdiich 
sat in September, 1875, but the state of his health rendered 
it impossible for him to undergo the labors of the canvass. 
This was not needed on his own account, but his absence 
from the hustings w^as regretted on account of the Conven- 
tion cause. lie published, however, a strong address to his 
constituents ; which was widely circulated, and had an im- 
portant influence on the result. 

A meeting of the boundary Commissioners had been ar- 
ranged to take place at Saratoga Springs, in the State of 
N^ew York, in the month of August, 1875. Thither Mr. 
Graham accordingly went, accompanied by Mrs. Graham 
and his youngest son. For many days he appeared to be in 
his usual health ; but a great change was at hand. After an 
evening spent wdth his friends, whose society he enjoyed 
with more than his wonted zest, ho retired a little beyond 
his accustomed hour. Soon after the symptoms of his dis- 
ease recurred in aggravated form. Physicians were sum- 
moned who ministered p)romptly, but ineftectually. Mean- 
time the news of his situation spread, and messages of in- 
quiry and offers of personal services testified to the general 
and deep concern. But all that science and the most afiec- 


tionate solicitude could suggest proved unavailing. lie ex- 
pired at 6 o'clock on the morning of Wednesday, the 11th 
of August, 1875. 

It had long been believed, by those who knew him best^ 
that Mr. Graham was at heart a Christian. It is with inex- 
pressible gratification, I am able to add, that when ap- 
proached on this subject during the last days of his life, he 
freely expressed his hope of salvation through our crucified 

The intelligence of his death was transmitted by telegraph 
to every part of the country. All the great journals responded 
with leading articles expressive of the national bereavement. 
Numerous meetings w^ere held — meetings of the Bar, meet- 
ings of citizens, meetings of political opponents, for political 
enemies he had none — to give their estimate of the illustri- 
ous deceased, and to speak their sense of his loss. The States 
of Virginia and Maryland, with that high sense of delicacy 
which marks all their public acts, took care that the remains^ 
of one who had stood in such honored relations to each, 
should be conveyed with due honor across their bounds. At 
the borders of our State they were received by a committee 
appointed by the Bar of Raleigh; by a committee appointed 
by the Mayor and conmion council of that city, and by a 
committee from Hillsborough, and conveyed by special train 
to Raleigh. There they were received b}^ appointed 
committees — by the Raleigh Light Infantry, by the- 
Raleigh Light Artillery, (of both of which companies 
he was an honorary member), by the United States 
troops from Camp Russell, and accompanied by a 
great concourse of the citizens, conveyed to the capitoL 
There the remains were deposited in the rotunda, which was 
draped in mourning for the occasion. Late in the afternooni 
of the same day they were conveyed with similar ceremo- 
nies to the Central Station. From thence, attended by the- 
Raleigh companies, and by special guards of honor, appointed 
by cities and towns of the State, and by the family of the- 


deceased, they were conveyed by special train to the station Hillsborough. From thence they were escorted, with the 
addition of the whole population of the town, to his man- 
,sion, where they lay in state till the noon of Sunday, the 
15th. At that hour they were conveyed to the Presbyte- 
rian Church, and, after appropriate funeral services, were in- 
terred with solemn ceremon}^, amid an immense concourse, 
gathered from many counties, in the grave-yard of that 

The intellect of Mr. Graham was of a rare order. For the 
business of life, public and private, it may be said to have 
been perfect. Though in the endowments of genius — taking 
that word in its extended sense — he assuredly was not want- 
ing; yet, like all who have accomplished much, he trusted 
little to its unaided impulses and suggestions. Very seldom 
did he call to his aid the powers of imagination in his 
speeches or writings. The bent of his genius did not lead 
him to indulge in vivid painting, glowing imagery or bold 
.contrasts. With this faculty so restrained we would not in his speeches for passages of the highest oratorical 
merit. In them will be found none of those high-wrought 
.appeals, invocations or adjurations in which the orator gives 
utterance to excited feelings ; nothing which would show 
the man possessed and transported by his theme ; nothing 
. of that j)assion which passes by electric communication from 
-the speaker to the hearer and bears him along by a force 
that is irresistible. It was in the resources of a clear, capa- 
.cious and powerful understanding, sustained and enlarged 
by a special and inborn capability for labor, that he centered 
his strength. In him was seen, not one possessed by his 
theme, but one who was master of himself and his theme ; 
not one Avho would hurry his hearers along despite them- 
.selves, but one who hy persuasion would lead, and who by 
., argument would convince his audience.-' If, then, his hear- 

*This was in strict observance of one of the rules enjoined by the severe taste 
.of the Attic oratoig. "The orator must always show tliat he was master of him- 

ers missed some of those more strikino; forms of tliouo-ht in; 
which imagination delights, they were more than compen- 
sated by the freer play and wider scope thus given to the 
powers of reason. In this respect the demands of the judg- 
ment were completelj^ satislied. In truth, for the purposes' 
of the lawyer and the statesman, he was all the better for 
this abstinent use of a faculty which, while it brightens and 
adorns, too often misleads — too often presents truth through 
a colored and false medium. Truth took no color in his 
mind from talse lights, intellectual or moral. It was this 
constitution of mind, this habitual ward and absolute con- 
trol over every faculty that could mislead, which, united 
with a singular equanimity of temper, gave him a power iu 
which he was surpassed by no one ; the power of seeing 
things in their true proportions — of seeing things precisely as 
they are. It was this moral and mental equilibrium which 
gave him a judgment which, in the affairs of life, seemed 
never to err. Hence it was that he was the trusted coun- 
sellor of every friend in dithculty ; often of the Executive 
and of the Legislature of the State in cases of doubt and 
embarrassment ; alwa^'S of the people in every time of polit- 
ical trouble. 

The place which will be awarded him in the rank of ora- 
tors will not be the highest. Indeed at oratorical effects, 
purely as such, he never aimed. There is no doubt but that 
he might have employed the resources of oratory, other than 
the very highest, to a much greater extent than he did. All 
who have heard him in capital trials, and on other occasions 
when great interests Avere at stake, were persuaded that he 
possessed reserved resources of this kind to which he did not 
give play, and which he could have called into requisition 
at will. That he refrained was matter of deliberate judg- 
ment. He preferred to address himself to the understand- 

seif, and never was run aw ly wi'.h by the vehemence of the nioment."— Lord 
Jirougham s Disset Uiiijn on (he Eloqxtznce of the Ancients. 


ing. He relied wholly upon argument, disdaining the ad- 
juncts of mere rhetoric. He knew that the triumphs of rea- 
son are more durable than those which are the offspring of 
excited feeliug. Reaction and change follow the latter ; the 
former leave full, permanent conviction. 

As a parliamentary speaker and as an advocate he stood 
in the first rank. His style was that which finds so much 
favor among eminent English statesman, that style in which 
the results of thought and research are given with the warmth 
-and ease of animated and unpremeditated conversation* In 
this style of speaking supreme excellence is more difficult 
-to attain than in any other. It demands a perfect mastery of 
the subject, entire possession of all the fiicnlties of the mind, 
iind a command of language copious, pure and idiomatic. 
Such speakers address themselves professedly to the judg- 
ment. They challenge criticism, and seek no protection 
from those fervors of feeling which it is the object of the 
•orator to excite. In this st3de of speaking he was a model. 

In addition to his high intellectual endowments, nature 
had to him been profuse in external gifts. In person he was 
the ideal of the patrician. His features, regular and classic 
in their outline, would have satisfied a sculptor. The ha- 
bitual expression of his face was one of blended thought, re- 
finement and quiet will. His form was noble and com- 
manding ; cast, indeed, in nature's finest mould. These 
advantages were set oflt" by a dress always scrupulously neat, 
and sufficiently conformed to the prevailing mode to escape 
observation. The advantages, thus slightly touched upon, 
Avere singularly calculated to impress favorably the mind of 
any audience. If we add that he appeared before every 
audience with the prestige of a character, which calumny 

*Sir James Jlclntosh remarked, that "the true light in which to consider 
speal<ing in the House of Commons was as an animated conversation on public 
business, and tliat it was rare for any speech to succeed which was raised on 
finy otlier basis. Canning joined in this opinion ^'—London Quarterly Review, 
April, 18.58. 


itself would own to be without a blemish, the causes of his 
uniform success are easy to discern. 

In his discussions, whether of the Senate or of the Forum 
no man was ever freer from any of those intellectual artifices 
to which speakers sometimes resort. He approached his 
fidversarv's stronghold by no circuitous lines ; he practiced 
no feints to draw off attention from his own Aveak points. 
Indirection of any kind was foreign to his nature. There 
were no bold attacks, no sudden onsets. His speeches were 
filways clear, strong, convincing ; on great occasions they 
resembled a triumphal march — a quiet but imposing display 
of strength. In intellectual conflicts his self-possession never 
failed him. If his antagonist, in his assault upon his posi- 
tion, chanced to carrj^ any of his out-works, he referred 
to it with an easy, careless indifference that impressed 
fill hearers with the idea that his opponent had misdirected 
his attack and thrown away his strength. The effect of this 
temporary advantage being thus weakened or destroyed, 
he threw out some brief, pregnant suggestions, which served 
to fortify anew the damaged point. At the Bar his case 
was always presented in its strongest aspect. The leading 
principles of law were clearly enunciated ; his discussions of 
them were clear, pointed and full. He then proceeded to 
support the case from the testimony adduced. In this re- 
spect he was unsurpassed. His mind had been subjected to 
such thorough discipline that it worked with mechanical 
-ease and accuracy. The evidence, however multifarious, fell 
at once into due order and compact array. His vast ac- 
quaintance with the business of life, in every phase, enabled 
him to see in facts a significance and bearing that \vould be 
perceived by few, and to use and apply them in a way at 
once ingenious, startling and legitimate. His insight into 
character — originally keen, and so improved by contact with 
men in every class of life that it had grown into an intuition — 
was broucrht to bear with decisive eft'ect in every case of 
conflicting testimony. In such cases he reasoned upon the 


motives of men Avitli almost irresistible force uiul power. 
He cherished the highest idea of the dignity of his pro- 
fession, and his practice of it was regulated b}' the most 
exalted principle. The rule of professional conduct laid 
down by Lord Brougham, as counsel for (^ueen Caroline, it 
will be remembered, was as follows : "An advocate, hy the 
sacred duty which he owes to his client, knows in the dis- 
charge of that ottice but one person in the world, and none 
other. To save that client by all expedient means — to pro- 
tect that client at all hazards and cost to all others, and 
among others to himself — is the highest and most unques- 
tioned of his duties; and he must not regard the alarm, the 
suffering, the torment, the destruction which ho may bring 
upon an}' other.'' This rule he condemned and re{»udiated. 
His own conduct was conformed to the }»rinc'iples laid down 
b}^ Lord Langdalc in Hutchinson vs. Stephens: "Xo counsel 
supposes himself to be the mere advocate or agent of hi* 
client to gain a victory, if he can, on a particular occasion. 
The zeal and arguments of every counsel, knowing what is. 
due to himself and his honorable profession, are qualitied not 
only by considerations atfecting his own character a^; a man 
of honor, experience and learning, but also by considerations'' 
affecting the general interests of justice.'' Within the do- 
main of the principles here aimounced, there never lived a 
counsel who excee'ded him in zeal, tidelity and constancy to 
the interests of his client, or in uniiagging hoi)e in his tinal 

He possessed in many respects the temperament of a great 
commander. As difiiculties thickened around him his cour- 
age seemed to rise, and his resources to develop. Xo man 
ever fought a losing cause with more courage and constancy. 
AVhen in important cases the tide'of testimony unexpectedly 
turned and tiowed de;ul against him there was nothing in 
his look or manner that betrayed the change. His 
attention ^vould be redoubled, but in all else there 
was so much of calm composure that lookers-on, inat- 


tentive to the evidence, have left the Court House 
under the impression that he would gain the cause He 
preserved, under all circumstances in the trial of causes, the 
loftv tenor of his bearing. He was never betrayed into an 
altercation with witnesses. It may be that awe of his char- 
acter, and a consciousness of his practiced sagacity and pen- 
etration constrained witnesses, when in his hands, to an un- 
wonted utterance of the truth. This impression may have 
been assisted, and probably was, by the fairness and integri- 
ty observable in his whole bearing. But whatever the cause, 
it is certain he never resorted to boisterous tones or a brow- 
beating manner. Equally removed was his manner from all 
the arts of cajolery. In his examination of the most refrac- 
tory witness his mien was calm, his look observant and pen- 
etrating, his voice never or but slightly raised above its or- 
dinary tone. In such a contest, the contest between acute, 
disciplined reason, and cunning or obstinate knavery, the 
victory was always on the side of the former. 

In his moral constitution he was complete on every side. 
All his conduct in life was regulated not only by the liio-h 
est sense of honor, but by the most scrupulous sense of duty. 
This supreme sense of duty in every thing that he did, 
whether great or small, was his distinguishing characteris- 
tic. From his cradle to his grave not a shadow of a shade, 
ever rested upon him. Esteeming a stainless character as 
the highest of all earthly possessions, he exercised the most 
scrupulous caution in his judgment of others. Few men 
w^ere more often in the public arena. He took part in all 
the political canvasses of his time ; in many of which parti- 
san feeling was inflamed to the highest pitch. Yet he never 
assailed the motives of his opponent and never left any feel- 
ing of personal injury rankling in his bosom. He always 
contended for principle, and disdained to use any argument 
which reason would not sanction. 

In debate he was a model of candor, and whoever .might 
be his opponent he would always accept Mr. Graham's state- 


raent of his position. In all his intellectual conflicts, wheth- 
er at the I'ar, on the hustings or in the Senate, under no 
provocation was he ever excited to an unseemly exhibition 
of temper. " Although " said a gentleman of high distinc- 
tion who knew him lono; and well:'^ " Althouich I hav^e 
been present at the Bar, and upon other public occasions 
when he must have been greatly tried, I have never seen his 
countenance degraded by an expression of passion. His 
look may at times have been stern and high, but at all times 
it could with advantage have been committed to marble or 

it was the opinion of that eminent lawyer, Archibald 
Henderson, that public men should mingle much with the 
people — that there is to be found the true school of common 
sense. Either because he held the same opinion, but more 
probably from inclination, his intercourse with the people 
was constant and cordial. When in attendance on his courts 
it was his custom when the day was tine to repair, after the 
adjournment of court, to the poi'tico of his hotel, or the kiwn 
in front of it, and sit for an hour or two. This was often 
his custom after the evening meal, usually served in his 
circuit at hours primitively early. Here he became the 
centre of a group of citizens all of whom he received with 
courtesy. The talk on such occasions was free and general ; 
and whatever the topic he listened to their views with at- 
tention, and in turn frankly gave his own. Thus his in- 
formation in regard to all matters of general interest was 
minute and particular. It was thus, too, that he became in- 
formed as to the current opinion in regard to public men and 
public measures. This intimate knowledge of the people 
was one of the great sources of his strength; it rendered his 
judgment of the probable fate of State and I^ational ques- 
tions of great value. His judgment upon such matters, in 
the counties in which his circuit lay, was almost infallible. 

*Hon. S. F. I'hillijps. 


In his social relations Mr. Graham was one of the most 
attractive of men. Few had so wide a circle of friends, or 
friends so attached. His manner to all men was urbane ; to 
his friends cordial and sincere. There was, except to a very 
few, and at times even to them, a shade of reserve in his 
manners ; but there was nothing of pride; nothing expressive 
of conscious superiority. There was great dignity, tempered 
by unfailing courtesy. Perhaps this tinge of reserve made 
his subsequent unbending the more agreeable. In his social 
hours, in the long winter evenings at court, with the circle 
gathered around the blazing hearth — it is as he was then 
seen that his friends love best to recall him. For many 
years there met together at one of his courts a number of 
gentlemen of high intellectual gifts and attainments. These 
were the lion. Robert G-illiam, the Hon. Abram W. Venable, 
the present Judge of the 7th circuit and others less known. 
With such men there was no need that any limitations 
should be imposed on the conversation. Except in the field 
of exact science they were very much at home in all. The 
conversation ranged wide, law, cases in court, history, 
biography, politics — largely interspersed with anecdotes — 
formed the topics. But rich as the repast was in all respects, 
the part which possessed the highest interest was that which 
was individual to each ; the wit which flashed and faded 
away ; the humor which played so felicitously in its legiti- 
mate sphere ; reminiscences of personal incidents, reminis- 
cences of celebrated persons and events — the latter so in- 
valuable to the historian and biographer. Of the latter kind 
the contributions made by Mr. Graham were of pre-eminent 
interest and value, since his theatre of action had been higher 
and wider. Had those conversations been taken down as 
they occurred they would have formed a work, which, be- 
side the exquisite charms ©f wit and humor, for the light 
which it would have thrown on life and manners, for shrewd 
observation of character, for striking remarks upon subjects, 
moral, social and political, would have been surpassed by 
few in English literature. 


I have thus phiced before you a ])rief and imperfect sketch 
of this illustrir^us man — how imperfect no one knows better 
than myself. It is a sketch of one eminently favored of 
nature in his personal and intellectual gifts ; of one upon 
whom fortune delighted to bestow her choicest favors. lie 
was the recipient of every honor, except those voluntarily 
declined, which his State could confer. He received high 
honors from the National Government, and was designated 
by all but a majority of his countrymen for the place second 
in rank in that Government. He was one of the few selected 
out of forty millions of people to carry out the most com- 
prehensive scheme of benevolence that individual philan- 
thropy ever framed for the human race. And when a con- 
troversy arose between two great States, second in lustre to 
none in the Union, it was to his arbitrament, and that ot two 
others, that this quasi-national question was submitted. To 
few of the sons of men have been allotted so splendid a 
career. There is enough here, and more than enough, to 
satisfy the aspirations of the loftiest ambition. But in the 
contemplation of that life he must be blind indeed who does 
not see that the moral rises high over the intellectual gran- 
deur. The moral dignity of man never received a higher 
illustration than in the life before us. We admire the pure 
Patriot in whose thoughts the State — her weal and her 
glory — was ever uppermost ; the learned Jurist who from his 
ample stores informed and moulded the laws of his own 
commonwealth ; the eloquent Advocate who stood alwaj^s 
read}' to redress the wrong, whether of the individual or the 
community at large ; the wise Statesman who swayed the 
destinies of his State more than any of his geueratioii. But 
we render the unfeigned homage of the heart to him, who 
by the majesty of his moral nature, passed pure and unsul- 
lied through the wide circle of trials and conflicts embra<^ed 
in his life ; and who, in his death, has left a fame that will 
be an incentive and a standard to the generous youth of 
North Carolina through all the ages that are to come. 



001 930 oo^